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The Summerhouse Trilogy (VMC) [Paperback]

Alice Thomas Ellis
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Dec 2004 VMC (Book 437)

Margaret and Syl are getting married. Alas for Margaret, who views her impending union with the odious Syl in the same way a ship must view a shipwreck. Alas for Mrs. Monro, Syl's mother, who harbours severe doubts about the entire male gender -- not least of all her son. Alas for Lili, the high-spirited temptress who is willing to do anything to prevent this disastrous misalliance, even if that means sacrificing herself.

And hooray for The Summerhouse Trilogy, which follows the ominous weeks before Margaret's wedding through the eyes of these three highly biased narrators. Fizzing with wit and the rueful wisdom of women who have seen -- and borne -- every species of masculine misbahaviour, this delectable and unexpectedly serious comedy was the inspiration for an acclaimed BBC TV film.



Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New edition edition (2 Dec 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844080846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844080847
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 804,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

This malicious comedy of manners is full of dry aphorisms. (GUARDIAN)

wonderfully acerbic. (GLASGOW HERALD)

Book Description

* A sharp comedy of marriage, motherhood and scandal filled with the author's trademark mordant wit and moral philosophy

* Three perspectives on an emotional minefield


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Alice Thomas Ellis skewers the attitudes and expectations which her characters bring to love and marriage, both as they live their own lives and as they judge the lives of others. But she is also an understanding author, recognizing that their foibles and limitations stem from their upbringing and experience, as they muddle along as best they can, aided by each other, and sometimes the church. This three-part novel concerns the imminent marriage of twenty-year-old Margaret to Syl, a man in his forties, and is told through three points of view: Margaret, who does not love Syl but intends to go through with the wedding; Syl's mother, the sensible Mrs. Monro, who, abandoned by her husband, does not want the marriage to take place; and Lili, a friend of Margaret's mother from school in Egypt, who arrives in a whirlwind, determined to upset the status quo.
From Margaret we learn of her passionate first love and a shocking death that have occurred during the year she spent away at school in Egypt. Devoutly religious, Margaret is torn between the concepts of romantic and religious love, and she cannot seem to reconcile the church's teachings regarding love, sex, sin, and death. Mrs. Monro, an elderly lady for whom death is very real, if not imminent, is hiding secrets associated with her own past love life. For her, too, love is associated with death and God, though in ways vastly different from Margaret's experience. Into this mix comes Lili, half Egyptian, half English, a free spirit unconcerned with traditional, churchly definitions of sin, and sexually liberated in her own life. Lili is determined to save Margaret from the "pointless secular martyrdom" of marriage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful discovery 5 Feb 2011
By F. M. M. Stott TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alice Thomas Ellis seems to have fallen out of fashion recently, and this is a great pity, for this clever, insightful writer is well worth reading. This novel - about the run-up to the marriage of Margaret and the much older Syl - is written in three parts, from three points of view: that of Margaret, of Mrs. Munro( Syl's mother), and of Lili, an old friend of Margaret's mother. If I have any compaint, it is that the character of Margaret - shadowy, thin, lifeless - is hard to get hold of, but then maybe that's true of Margaret herself. Syl's mother comes across much better, but the character who really stands out is Lili. Scheming, mishievous and clever, she nonetheless manages to arouse sympathy, and her intolerance of the other less colourful characters is completely understandable. Despite her appalling behaviour, it is she who understands Margaret's problems, and she who brings about the story's inevitable conclusion. The novel has no chapters - just the three parts - and I think it might have benifited from being broken up a little more, but the author has a wicked eye for human frailty, and exposes it mercilessly. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars the summerhouse trilogy 19 Sep 2011
By jelle
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't know until i bought this book that its an older book with a different title, so therefore a waste of money for me,
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The honeymoon will soon put the roses back in her cheeks." 27 Aug 2005
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alice Thomas Ellis skewers the attitudes and expectations which her characters bring to love and marriage, both as they live their own lives and as they judge the lives of others. But she is also an understanding author, recognizing that their foibles and limitations stem from their upbringing and experience, as they muddle along as best they can, aided by each other, and sometimes the church. This three-part novel concerns the imminent marriage of twenty-year-old Margaret to Syl, a man in his forties, and is told through three points of view: Margaret, who does not love Syl but intends to go through with the wedding; Syl's mother, the sensible Mrs. Monro, who, abandoned by her husband, does not want the marriage to take place; and Lili, a friend of Margaret's mother from school in Egypt, who arrives in a whirlwind, determined to upset the status quo.

From Margaret we learn of her passionate first love and a shocking death that have occurred during the year she spent away at school in Egypt. Devoutly religious, Margaret is torn between the concepts of romantic and religious love, and she cannot seem to reconcile the church's teachings regarding love, sex, sin, and death. Mrs. Monro, an elderly lady for whom death is very real, if not imminent, is hiding secrets associated with her own past love life. For her, too, love is associated with death and God, though in ways vastly different from Margaret's experience. Into this mix comes Lili, half Egyptian, half English, a free spirit unconcerned with traditional, churchly definitions of sin, and sexually liberated in her own life. Lili is determined to save Margaret from the "pointless secular martyrdom" of marriage.

A sensitive, philosophical exploration of love and sex, God and sin, and life and death, the novel is also an examination of the compromises people make, willingly or unwillingly, in order to find happiness during their lives and loves. Sparkling dialogue and thoughtful interior monologues reveal the sadness, loneliness, and confusion within many of the characters, while Ellis's sense of irony and ability to create absurd scenes lift the mood with cathartic comedy. Gently satirical and full of wise observations, this is an insightful and thoroughly entertaining study of several characters, interconnected by love and marriage, as they try to "muddle through." Mary Whipple
4.0 out of 5 stars The Summerhouse book 10 Mar 2009
By J. L. Hewes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this after seeing the movie. I like the 3 women's perspective on the same events. Very interesting story of a young woman who wants to be a nun, but seems helpless to escape a marriage to an older, un-likeable neighbor. Fortunately, it's a commedy so the ending is happy.
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