The Camomile Lawn Paperback – 1 Jun 2006
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"Provides equal does of sex and repression in war-torn Britain with panache and pace" (The Times)
"A very good book indeed...rich in detail, careful and subtle in observation, mature in judgement" (Susan Hill)
"Extraordinarily accomplished and fast-moving" (Financial Times)
"It's hard to overpraise Mary Wesley's novel...so tingling and spry with life that put a mirror to the book and I'll almost swear it will mist over with the breath of the five young cousins" (The Times)
A vivid and lively picture of wartime London and Cornwall as seen through the eyes of five cousins.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Wesley is darkly comedic, stylish, sharply observed and extremely witty. I had the feeling I sometimes get at the theatre, when the curtain rises to reveal the set, and at the speaking of the first line of dialogue, you instantly know `sure-fire, everyone knows what they are doing here, I'm in for a great couple of hours, and can let myself be guided by the play and the performers'
I had that feeling with the sharp, arresting beginning of The Camomile Lawn
`Helena Cuthbertson picked up the crumpled Times by her sleeping husband and went to the flower room to iron it'
In a single sentence of fabulous show-not-tell we know the class of the characters, can detect a relationship of dissatisfaction, and know this will be a barbed and witty comedy. (It was the detail of `the flower room', somehow which did it for me - the precise absurdity of that image which spelt the wit and the comedy)
Her book is set on the eve of war being declared. The central characters are a middle aged couple with a complicated set of nephews and nieces in their late teens, the teenage sons of neighbours, and two Jewish refugees staying with those neighbours.Read more ›
Some of the characters come more alive than others in the book. Especially successful, I think, is the portrait of Uncle Richard, for the most part just avoiding caricature.Read more ›
Mary Wesley bases much of her story on personal experience, particularly in her love of Cornwall where she spent her own childhood summers, and not a few of her characters are based on people she knew. Her lively narrative, filled with good, succinct dialogue, through which the story is mainly told, must have been fed with her own memories, and is immediate, realistic, and believable. The reader is swept into the affairs of Helena, Calypso, and Polly with an enthusiasm and, given that Mary Welsey must have been quite elderly by the time she wrote this novel, but her writing is sharp, witty, and convincing. She begins the novel with the funeral of one of the main characters, and tells the story in a series of long flashbacks interspersed with returns to the funeral, the people of the novel now old and looking back. This works well, and keeps the reader informed and aware.
I enjoyed this novel very much when I first read it years ago and, returning to it recently (2013), I enjoyed it just as much. I then watched the TV series which was beautifully done, accurately adapting the novel, getting the characters right, and using as much of Wesley's original dialogue as possible. I recommend both.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story starts in the summer of 1939 in a country house by the sea in Cornwall, complete with a camomile lawn. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Anne
Marvelous read - if you have enjoyed this try Wild Mary, the biography of the author, and you will see on what this book is basedPublished 8 months ago by Penny