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Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) Paperback – 2 Mar 2006


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Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) + The Weather In The Streets (VMC)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (2 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844083055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844083053
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.7 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A novelist in the grand tradition, and, more than this, an innovator, the first writer to filter her stories through a woman's feelings and perceptions (Anita Brookner)

Lehmann has always written brilliantly of women in love, of mothers, of daughters, of suffering (Margaret Drabble)

No English writer has told of the pains of women in love more truly or more movingly than Rosamond Lehmann (Marghanita Laski)

Book Description

*A classic coming-of-age novel from one of the best-loved writers of the twentieth century

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THE village, in the hollow below the house, is picturesque, unhygienic : it has more atmosphere than form, than outline : huddled shapes of soft red brick sag towards gardens massed with sunflowers, Canterbury bells, sweet-williams. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel failed at first to grasp me. I had started it once and ditched it. Haven't we seen the homes and lives of middle England, circa 1920, portrayed a thousand times? On a weekend break in the country, I tried again. I had been too hasty the first time. Lehmann's prose is captivating. She describes Olivia's first dance, her attempted elegance in a poorly assembled gown, her own and her sister's disappointment with the 'suitable young man' fetched up from somewhere to accompany them. The agony of appearing in a room full of strangers, relying on a lacklustre escort was particularly appropriate as I too attended a dance the weekend I read the book. I too had to face a room of strangers, and eighty years on, the same pain is still palpable in that situation.. Lehmann's writing becomes subtle and arresting. Scene after scene is written with truly fine comedy entwined with delicate reflections on adolescence, class and love . I howled with laughter, then blinked back tears at a poignant description of a blind man. Olivia doesn't enjoy as immediately successful an evening as her sister Kate but her 'Invitation to the Waltz 'of life is much more arresting.
Perhaps Lehmann borrowed a little too closely from Jane Austen's 'Mr Collins' in her portrait of the stuffy escort. ( Is there a bibliography of comic literary clergymen somewhere?). Perhaps the elision from comedy to tragedy played a little too obviously with the reader's emotions, but these reservations are curmudgeonly. The book is a toast to a young woman's debut into the world written with expert comic observation, and consummate prose. Delicious. Please read it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wanting To Read More Molly Keane on 2 July 2007
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I was seventeen, the same age as Olivia. The experience of reading this was so strong that I could afterwards remember every episode in my head as if it had really happened.

Although Rosamond Lehmann's style is laden with adjectives, three or four at a time sometimes, this technique really works in Invitation to the Waltz, and the impressionistic style is so powerful, that it's hypnotic and deeply memorable.

Reading it again at 24, I can see how naive Olivia is: it's not that surprising she gets into the mess she does in The Weather in The Streets: she's extremely gullible!

But still I love living every moment of the book through her: the cringiness of feeling obliged to buy pieces of lace from the manipulative salesgirl, being sickened by lecherous old men, being starstruck by the knowable but untouchable Spencers - for Olivia, used to a comfortable middle-class schoolroom bound environment - this is her chance to experience life, glamour and excitement. It's our chance too, to be taken away into the world of the novel, to be swept by the heady sense of expectation, and forced to witness and take a part in the little emotional dramas that make this novel so sensitive and finely tuned.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Star_Sea on 27 July 2006
Format: Paperback
I first read this book nearly ten years ago, when I was not much younger than Olivia and just as naive! Olivia is a wonderful character, rather sensitive and not quite sure of her place in the world, wishing for that magical transformation that will turn her into someone graceful and beautiful, like her older sister Kate. However, despite her awkward ways and the disappointing escort, Olivia's 'waltz' turns out to be very interesting indeed. Lehmann's stream-of-consciousness is first rate and leaves you wanting more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By smartesthorse on 13 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
This deceptively light, witty, sparkling book introduces us to the characters who are going to appear in the later much, much, stronger 'The Weather in the Streets.'

The action starts in our heroine, Olivia's comfortable middle class home and was written in 1932. The 'middle classness' is important because Lehmann's heroines reflect her own perpetual insecurities around class, of being in awe of 'the uppers' and feeling an outcast.

Lehmann draws heavily on her own family for the characters of her mother, her sister and little brother James... based on her brother, John. The exchanges with this child make for delightful reading as do the waspish comments of Olivia's mother.

Olivia is mad with excitement at going to the ball held by the posh neighbours, the Spencers and has a dress made specially. Unfortunately, this turns out to be something of a disaster, not quite right at the waist and very second class compared to that of the daughter of the Spencer family. A very large part of this book is simply taken up with one evening, that of the dance, and Olivia's exuberance, despite her, shyness, fear, horror and being stuck with duff suitors, is beautifully and engagingly described.

The real importance though is near the end of the book when Olivia has a chance to be alone with the glamorous son of the house, Rollo. Already Olivia is a little in love with him, with his style, his glamour, his insouciance, though in reality he is a bit of a bounder and in the background, ready to snatch him away, is the beautiful, enigmatic Nicola.

The book ends, the stage is set, four years later we Olivia and Rollo again in the splendid, heartbreaking, shocking 'The Weather in The Streets.' If you enjoy this novel I suggest you run out and get 'The Weather..' right now.
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