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Lolly Willowes (Virago Modern Classics Book 239) by [Warner, Sylvia Townsend]
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Lolly Willowes (Virago Modern Classics Book 239) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Length: 224 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Review

The novel sharply undercuts its genteel appearance to reveal a dark and visceral heart ... An elegantly enchanting tale that transcends its era (Lucy Scholes Observer)

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

'Witty, eerie, tender' (Times Literary Supplement)

She has a talent amounting to genius (John Updike, New Yorker)

Review

The novel sharply undercuts its genteel appearance to reveal a dark and visceral heart ... An elegantly enchanting tale that transcends its era -- Lucy Scholes Observer 20120318 One of our most idiosyncratic, courageous and versatile writers HERMIONE LEE 'Witty, eerie, tender' Times Literary Supplement She has a talent amounting to genius John Updike, New Yorker

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 694 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (1 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007704QWO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,416 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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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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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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: Kindle Edition
Southern England, 1920s. Laura’s life has been spent caring for her father. When he dies, she is taken in by her brother’s household in London, who do their best to find a suitable man for her to marry. However she is a little too ‘strange’ for any of her suitors, and instead helps look after her brother’s and sister-in-law’s children. When they are grown up, she decides to move to Great Mop, a village in the country, and live on her own. Great Mop turns out to be a village as ‘peculiar’ as she is, with midnight festivities and undercurrents of pagan religion. There’s even someone who appears to be the Devil. Is he, after all, the ‘man’ for her?

To my mind, the first part of this novel went on too long, and had too little dialogue, though it has its funny moments and it does convincingly build up Laura’s long years of mild depression. It gets going once Laura reaches Great Mop – but even then refuses the expected narrative moves: it doesn’t become a love-story, exactly, nor does Laura ‘find her place’, exactly, nor is the supernatural element either explained or explicitly embraced, but remains ambiguous. To me this was a bit frustrating, in the sense that I felt ther was a lot of comical potential left unused. It was a curious but not unenjoyable read.
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