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Mr Fortune's Maggot (Virago Modern Classics) Paperback – Facsimile, 12 Jan 1984

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (12 Jan. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860680436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860680437
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 1.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 580,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

One can't be too thankful that Miss Townsend Warner has lived to discover the alchemist s' secret of transmuting the past and the possible, and even the impossible now and then, into pure gold (HILARY SPURLING, OBSERVER)

One of our most idiosyncratic, courageous and versatile writers (HERMIONE LEE)

Book Description

Syliva Townsend Warner pursues the psychology of the story with beautiful accuracy' John Carey

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was Townsend Warner's first novel, and it's a striking one, which by all accounts caused quite a stir when it first appeared in 1926. The innocent-sounding title, and the quasi-Victorian, Gilbert-and-Sullivanish subtitle "Or, The Loving Huntsman" are deliberate attempts to lead the reader up the garden path. For the Loving Huntsman is none other than the Devil himself, to whom maiden aunt Lolly Willowes has sold her soul for a bit of peace and quiet.
Laura Willowes, known to friends and family as Aunt Lolly, is the youngest child and only daughter of brewery owner and doting father Everard, with whom she lives a happy, bookish existence until his sudden death when she is twenty-eight. She moves in with her brother and sister-in-law in London, who treat her with well-meaning condescension as a sort of unpaid nanny: "Henry and Caroline did all they could to prevent her feeling unhappy. If they had been overlooking some shame of hers they could not have been more tactful, more modulatory." Friends and family are unanimous in considering the Lolly problem settled. A few years later, however, she astonishes them all by renting a cottage in the obscure Bedfordshire village of Great Mop, where she intends to stay alone. But all is not as it seems there: the village community seems strangely closed, and there are odd goings-on by moonlight. None of this greatly troubles Lolly, who relaxes into a gentle nature mysticism. However, when her family begin inviegling for her return to London, she finds that there is no option but to invoke supernatural assistance...
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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sylvia Townsend Warner's debut novel is always worth reading. A hit in its day it has always remained her most popular book, although all her tales are well worth reading. A story most definitely of its time this is much more than a whimsical read, which alas for all of Warner's books have got a reputation for being whimsical, or too hard. This book indeed has a whimsical surface, but scratch away the veneer and you will find something much deeper.

Laura 'Lolly' Willowes has grown up with her father, and then eventually living with one of her brothers. Gradually aging and being a spinster she lives as many others of her type have done so, always with members of the family, alone to a certain extent, bored and to an extent put upon for help. As the First World War takes men off to battle women are more and more called upon to fill men's roles, and Lolly does her little bit by making up parcels. With the world returning to a degree to its old habits, Lolly eventually finds a yearning for something more.

Leaving by herself she moves to Great Mop in the Chilterns. Seemingly an idyllic pastoral setting, it seems as if Lolly has found her own paradise, but then Tobias, one of her nephews, also moves to the area. As Lolly wants to be left alone, so she meets the 'Devil'.

This story, which was extremely relevant at the time is still for a lot of women quite relevant to their lives nowadays. If you are stuck at home, you would like to get a job, or just take more interest in something, then this book is well worth reading. With a light touch Warner tackles a problem that took most of her peers pages and pages to put down.
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Format: Paperback
'With a chilling immediacy this book speaks today, as it did in 1925, for women. Not only women like Laura who are incapable of loving men, but for all those who have been "subdued" into ladyhood, or dwindled into wives. Women were strongly concerned with their status during the first forty years of this century. Now, after a sleep of twenty years, they, like Lolly Willowes, are awake again, seeking for lives of their own...Lolly Willowes...is the witty, eerie, tender but firm life history of a middle-class Englishwoman who politely declines to make the expected connection with the opposite sex and becomes a witch instead' -- John Updike, THE NEW YORKER
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lolly Willowes is essentially about a spinster who, after years of being used as a babysitter for her various nieces and nephews, makes a pact with Satan and becomes a witch. Y'know, just your classic modern classic storyline. For the most part I did enjoy this book; I thought Laura was a charming protagonist, and while some parts of the story were quite sad other parts were fantastically funny, but I didn't like it as much as I'd hoped I would. The book just got a little too weird for me near the end, which is saying something; I quite like weird books, but this one took such a turn that it suddenly felt like I was reading a different book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the most beautifully written, lyrical, eerie, delicious tale of witchcraft in rural England - I cannot recommend it enough. The story concerns Laura Willowes ("Aunt Lolly") the maiden aunt of the family, confirmed spinster, who upon the death of her beloved father is exiled out to live with relatives and pretty much ends up being the "useful" aunt upon whom everyone comes to rely. An appendage in the family, Lolly is taken for granted by all, until she decides to do something for herself and moves to the charming village of Great Mop. There she meets a whole coven of witches, a kitten called Vinegar and Satan; and life starts to pick up for her.

There is not a word out of place in the novel and reading it is quite simply a bewitching experience (if you'll pardon the pun). In fact, by the end I was longing to move to Great Mop myself, visit the fantastically named pub "The Reason Why" (every village should have one) and perhaps take up witchcraft. I also found a lovely quote from the book: "Life becomes simple if one does nothing about it." How true.
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