Customer Review

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Marriage is a totally mistaken idea', 5 July 2008
This review is from: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (Paperback)
The 'midget of a village woman, like a mosquito' who pants and grunts around setting up the after-wedding tea may make this comment in passing, but in this short novel it is only too apparent that the marriage between Dolly Thatcham and Owen Bigham is indeed a totally mistaken idea. Bearing a resemblance to Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, the book takes the reader through the day of the wedding, the before and after - notably missing out the wedding itself. We are sucked into a clamouring household - each individual bearing their own preoccupations with an edginess typical of a 'big day'. That alone made me want to run in any and every other direction. The bride's mother, Mrs Thatcham has a birdlike nervousness and a prattling stupidity that is in direct contrast to her daughter's languid gloom and inability to make her voice heard. It is only 119 pages but it is exhausting in it's heightened emotions and lack of peace. For there is another man, and the other man loves Dolly too - although neither have ever said it and both seem too stupified to say it now, or even consider it worth saying. Joseph runs to find her as a hammer in his head bangs out 'stop the wedding' over and over again, but when he does find Dolly (after a comedy of just missing her in each room in the house) she is preoccupied with covering up the ink she has spilled over her dress and says shortly 'you can tell me anything you like afterwards'. Julia Strachey's writing is stunning. Her characterisation is entirely unique, yet describes everything in a way that is so recognisable you wonder how you've never seen it that way before. Like the little boy, Jimmy's, face with features 'so small they could hardly be seen, bunched up together as they were in the middle of his face, like currants in a penny bun when they all run into the centre together for some reason'. Or, Old Mrs Whistable who 'resembled the blackish nobbled and twisted stump of an old elm tree very much more nearly than she did a human being'. An exquisite, frustrating, unresolved tale - just as is the messy business of life.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Nov 2009 01:06:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Nov 2009 04:50:29 GMT
Mrs. Peel says:
Excellent review! Your wording and phrasing beautifully evoke Julia Strachey's as well, indeed an impressive accomplishment.

I have just finished reading this brilliant, little jewel of a novel for the first time. It is one which I shall enjoy re-reading.

One element perplexes me somewhat: Joseph's lightning bolt-like revelation that Dolly gave birth to twins in Albania. It seems a last-ditch attempt to stop the wedding rather than truth. What is your opinion?
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G. Dutton
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Location: London

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