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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyful, funny, poignant story of young dreams unfolding.
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...
Published on 25 Oct 2001

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange but pleasant
Considering the subject matter, I would probably have never considered it if it hadn't been a set book on a recent WEA course about literature of the Fifties. As a male, I really have little empathy with choosing a gown for a ball around 1920 but Ms. Lehmann certainly catches the mood of the time and have obvious talent. Apparently her first novel was scandalous for its...
Published 4 months ago by Dorothy & Joe Yeomans


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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyful, funny, poignant story of young dreams unfolding., 25 Oct 2001
By A Customer
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious and delightful, 27 July 2006
By 
Star_Sea "Xing" (Salisbury, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding novel - one of my favourites, 2 July 2007
This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A coming-of-age novel in microcosm, 14 Aug 2011
By 
Secret Spi (Germany) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (Paperback)
A beautifully-written and very insightful story of a young girl on the verge of knowing who she is, "Invitation to the Waltz" is like a coming-of-age novel in microcosm. The setting and heroine recall the worlds of The Constant Nymph and I Capture the Castle (although rather less bohemian) to some extent, with a few Mitford characters thrown in at the ball.

Although written eighty years ago, the overall feeling of the novel is fresh and upbeat and still very relevant for today. The cast of characters at the ball, from the old lech, to the drunk, to the "me-against-the-world" angst-ridden poet to the young man cruelly maimed through war are figures that everyone will recognise. In Olivia, the author has created a delightful and sympathetic heroine with whom you can't fail to identify.

The writing is a joy to read, flitting as it does through thoughts, events, descriptions. The rather blowsy, disreputable army wife is described as having "so much sherry-coloured hair" - just brilliant!

I'll definitely be reading The Weather in the Streets now, as other reviewers have suggested.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant prelude to 'The Weather in the Streets', 13 Aug 2011
This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant, 22 April 2011
This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (Paperback)
Anyone who has ever been a 17 year old girl will relate to this charming tale. Given that it was written in the 1920's I was surprised by how amusing the book is in places. It is probably best read in one sitting which unfortunately I didn't get the chance to do. Save this book for when you have a few hours to yourself to savour it undisturbed. Do be aware that if you want a fast paced plot this is probably not the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit girly, but utterly absorbing, 26 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (Paperback)
I read this little girly gem in two hours. I wouldn't have thought it was my kind of book, but the writer convinced me to care about the characters. Some of the writing and humour were surprisingly modern. I Laughed Out Loud frequently. It'd be interesting to know what a Man thought of it...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Strange but pleasant, 17 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (Paperback)
Considering the subject matter, I would probably have never considered it if it hadn't been a set book on a recent WEA course about literature of the Fifties. As a male, I really have little empathy with choosing a gown for a ball around 1920 but Ms. Lehmann certainly catches the mood of the time and have obvious talent. Apparently her first novel was scandalous for its time. Anyone buying this for its sexual frisson must have been a little disappointed!
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'All the room's reflected objects seemed to frame, to present her, whispering "Here are You"', 20 Sep 2012
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) (Paperback)
Wonderful stream of consciousness novel opening on Olivia's 17th birthday in 1920 in a shabby, genteel home.
As she experiences the sheer joy of being alive, her birthday gifts, the beauty of nature and the excitement at her forthcoming first dance, she must also confront the bad things in life: contemplating that her elderly father will not always be with her; an awareness of the sad spinsterish life of her dressmaker; the fact that Uncle Oswald has somehow failed in life. And even at the dance: meeting a guest blinded in the War; encountering rudeness and awkwardness.
Totally re-creates the emotions of a teenager starting out in life.
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Invitation To The Waltz (VMC)
Invitation To The Waltz (VMC) by Rosamond Lehmann (Paperback - 2 Mar 2006)
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