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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreak of surplus generation of women
'Mary thought of her busy, happy life. She compared it to Kathy's fullness; it seemed starvation...'
This beautifully written, minutely observed novel will break your heart (and if you are a middle-aged spinster make you thankful that you are unmarried in the 21st century and not in the years after the Great War.)
Mary, the rector's daughter, is only in her...
Published on 16 Sep 2008 by booksetc

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
I bought a copy of The Rector's Daughter after hearing Susan Hill putting forward the novel as a `neglected classic' on Radio 4's Open Book programme. Having just finished the book I regret to say that my main feeling is one of disappointment.. F M Mayor does indeed effectively portray the problems of Mary's position as a middle aged spinster in an English village in the...
Published on 15 Dec 2009 by LCL


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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreak of surplus generation of women, 16 Sep 2008
By 
'Mary thought of her busy, happy life. She compared it to Kathy's fullness; it seemed starvation...'
This beautifully written, minutely observed novel will break your heart (and if you are a middle-aged spinster make you thankful that you are unmarried in the 21st century and not in the years after the Great War.)
Mary, the rector's daughter, is only in her mid-30s, dowdy, devotedly loyal to her chilly Victorian father, determinedly cheerful. Her quiet, mostly contented life is shattered when she falls in love; she is held in the man's arms and kissed ... but only once. When her father dies, Mary's life expands and, in a way, she blossoms; she is embraced into the world of Unnecessary Females - all those busy, active, organising but unfulfilled English spinsters of her generation.
But just as fascinating and beautifully observed is the unsuitable marriage of brash, thick-skinned Kathy and the austere clergyman who - on the face of it - should have married Mary.
Flora M Mayor knew from experience the heart-aching loneliness of the unmarried and childless; over 30, she was devastated when her own fiance died of typhoid /malaria as they were making their wedding plans.
Her book will haunt you.

Postscript, Sept 2009: I see that Susan Hill, in her thought-provoking and very readable new book Howards End is on the Landing (a book about books and reading) has placed The Rector's Daughter in her final 40 of books that she couldn't live without. Which places it in some very fine company indeed.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to capture your heart and mind, 5 Sep 2005
By 
C.GASTER (WINCHESTER, HANTS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
From its opening pages, with their introduction to Dedmayne and to Mary, this book takes over my heart. The setting, the characters and the time are so exquisitely portrayed that they make this a book to live in, so that you can touch and smell the landscape and feel all of Mary's emotions as she falls in love and yet is doomed to live on as the rector's spinster daughter, performing all the relentless duties which that role involves.
Although I know this novel almost by heart, I always find something new on every re-reading - most recently I have realised how minutely FM Mayor examines the marriage of Mr Herbert and Kathy and I am always moved by the other relationships which are explored: father and daughter, servant and mistress, rector and parish.
There is also gentle humour in this novel and occasionally a curious sense of understatement, so that it is at times like a passionate version of "Cranford" with men added.
FM Mayor's prose has not a word out of place and her descriptions of the East Anglian countryside are reminiscent of Emily Bronte's evocations of Yorkshire.
To re-phrase a line from this most perfect of novels:
God bless Flora for ever for having given us this gem.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, 15 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Rector's Daughter (VMC) (Paperback)
I bought a copy of The Rector's Daughter after hearing Susan Hill putting forward the novel as a `neglected classic' on Radio 4's Open Book programme. Having just finished the book I regret to say that my main feeling is one of disappointment.. F M Mayor does indeed effectively portray the problems of Mary's position as a middle aged spinster in an English village in the early 1900s, and the relationship between Mary and her elderly clergyman father is often touching and well drawn. But unfortunately I found the other characters in the book to be at best dull (Robert Herbert and Dora) and at worst irritating (Kathy and her `set', who have names like Jim-Jam and Cocky and use words like 'topping' and `beastly' ). I believed in Mary and had some sympathy for her, but the novel never really gripped me and I struggled to finish it.
I was interested to read that a previous reviewer felt that the novel had `shades of Trollope' , as I have also just read `Miss McKenzie', which was another of Radio 4's `neglected classics'. There are certain similarities beween the two novels (both are about unmarried women in middle age who have spent much of their lives looking after members of their family), but I much preferred 'Miss McKenzie' with its engaging central character and well-observed touches of humour.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rectors Daughter, 13 Mar 2009
By 
Mrs. Joan Watson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a find! Just when you were wishing Jane Austen had written more, this book has a renaissance and fills the void. A charming book; well-observed and a reminder to us emancipated women how subserviant and hamstrung by the rules of society women were in that age.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe one to reread?, 12 Sep 2011
By 
Mrs. M. Connolly (Leicester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Rector's Daughter (VMC) (Paperback)
This book came well recommended, so I was surprised to have been slightly disappointed.I did not take to the heroine, sadly, nor did I find her and her father very credible characters. Having grown up in a clerical household, they didn't really ring true, but then, it is set some years ago, when things were very different. I felt that Canon Jocelyn resembled a more academic Mr Woodhouse, laced with other derivative characteristics. I did not warm to the hero either. Once he had married someone else, I did wish Mary would find someone else too. I did not empathise with her fondness for windy unpleasant weather. What a pity to go to live with an old aunt in Croydon and become a young 'old lady' at less than 40.
I have read Freya Stark's autobiography 'Traveller's Prelude' this week since finishing 'The Rector's Daughter'.She underwent worse trials than Mary, but came out with her spirit still lively and in tact and took off to Arabia.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great if little-known novel, 21 April 2010
By 
Ivan (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rector's Daughter (VMC) (Paperback)
Although on the surface this novel is just a sad tale about the wasted and suppressed life of an intelligent young woman at the start of the Twentieth Century, the technique and writing are extraordinary. When I first read it in a couple of days, I was amazed at its brilliance. So I am now re-reading a page or two at a time, appreciating the precision of the language and the paring down to essentials in the incidents and dialogue. Reading this story will enhance anyone's life; and if you happen also to be interested in good writing, you will find so much to admire.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'In her eyes Mary by her plainness was as cut off from men as a nun by her cloister', 6 Jun 2012
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rector's Daughter (VMC) (Paperback)
Virago Classics at its best in this engrossing tale of the plain middle-aged daughter of a stern but loving clergyman. Mary's spinster friend Dora is cheerfully resigned to her lot of church and charity work. But Mary secretly yearns for more:
'"I have longed for it"... "I have sometimes thought", Mary said with feeling, "the kisses-"
And then Mary's life seems to be changing...
Interesting to compare the different kinds of lives available to young people when this was written (1924)- the Victorian upbringing of Mary compared to the fast-living young set who crop up later in the book, with their slangy talk and affairs.
A heartily reccommended read; and the ending is so beautifully written.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 1920's love story, 20 Oct 2009
This review is from: The Rector's Daughter (VMC) (Paperback)
I loved this book. It is quiet, understated, and very much of its period, the 1920s. It is an easy read, and not very long. It takes a little while to get in to the story, but it is worth the effort. My heart ached for the heroine, Mary, as she watches the love of her life marry someone else. The characters are real, and their thoughts and feelings beautifully described. Shades of Trollope and Austen, too.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle Englishwoman's quiet life, 16 Feb 2010
By 
Hilary Jayne (Glos, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rector's Daughter (VMC) (Paperback)
For a deep insight into the character of a modest but passionate daughter- a single woman serving her family with a strong sense of duty who falls in love, suffers and triumphs - read this. Its wholly believable with characters of great colour bringing it to life - a memorable read. I was sorry to finish it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hard going., 22 Oct 2014
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I was looking forward to reading this book, as I enjoy reading about this period of time, when my parents were young. However I am sorry to say I found it very hard going, and really struggled to finish it.
Some of the story lines stretched credibility, particularly the marital ups and downs, and the miraculous surgery described....but mostly, for me, it was merely boring.
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The Rector's Daughter (VMC)
The Rector's Daughter (VMC) by F.M. Mayor (Paperback - 10 Aug 1987)
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