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The Nutmeg Tree

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (1958)
  • ASIN: B0000CJZU9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,835,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Julia ,’by marriage Mrs Packett, by courtesy Mrs Macdermot’ is the central character of three strongly delineated women, in Margery Sharp’s delightful The Nutmeg Tree.

Sharp, a deliciously witty writer of rather eccentric English romances and childrens’ books, from the 1930s to the 1970s, had sadly gone out of print, and was only available as lucky finds in second hand shops or sometimes on line at some eye-watering prices.

Fortunately, Open Road Integrated Media who have a wonderful reputation for reissuing ‘minor’ classics in good, digital format, have now reissued a generous couple of handfuls of her titles.

And this is one of them, and I was delighted to be offered The Nutmeg Tree by Open Road, as a copy for review

Julia is a middle-aged actress, member of the chorus, and any kind of vaguely theatre related work she can get. She is a woman of impeccably loose morals. Promiscuous in part because she has a generous heart (and even more generous bosoms), she cannot bear to disappoint or embarrass a suitor. Not to mention the fact that she is hopeless with money, will squander what she has on a good time and good friends, and, when treading the boards work is slender, a man might take her out for a meal. She is not averse to undertaking the odd swindle, to part a fool from his money, either

It is Sharp’s particular genius, her wit and her warmth, to take this seemingly unprincipled woman, and make us root for her, delight in her, and understand exactly why so many who meet her, both men and women, happily fall under the spell of her charms. Despite her dishonesty, she is remarkably honest with herself about her failings, and really dislikes hurting or offending those whom she fleeces.
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Format: Paperback
The Nutmeg Tree charts the fortunes of Julia, a middle aged former actress who retains her gleeful love of life and all it has to offer. Her enthusiasm and warmth has got her into trouble before in her youth, not least when she finds herself swiftly become pregnant, married and widowed in the space of a few months. Stifled by the kindness of her very proper and rather rich in-laws, she leaves her daughter Susan with them to be raised and returns to life and work in London. At the start of the novel, Julia has not seen her daughter for sixteen years until a letter arrives from Susan enlisting her mother's help in persuading her grandparents to let her get married. Unable to resist this cry for help, the affectionate Julia immediately boards a boat for France, determined this time to be a proper mother. But old habits die hard and Julia's exuberance will not be repressed, particularly when there are eligible gentlemen around.

I could tell that I had picked just the right book as soon as I read the opening paragraph: "Julia, by marriage Mrs Packett, by courtesy Mrs Macdermot, lay in her bath singing the Marseillaise. Her fine robust contralto, however, was less resonant than usual; for on this particular summer morning the bathroom, in addition to the ordinary fittings, contained a lacquer coffee table, seven hatboxes, half a dinner service, a small grandfather clock, all Julia's clothes, a single-bed mattress, thirty-five novelettes, three suitcases, and a copy of a Landseer stag. The customary echo was therefore lacking; and if the ceiling now and then trembled, it was not because of Julia's song, but because the men from the Bayswater Hire Furniture Company had not yet finished removing the hired furniture.
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Format: Paperback
A lovely light but intelligent romance, that isn't formulaic. Margery Sharp is a great storyteller, and this tale of an impoverished and ageing chorus girl, Julia, who visits her daughter in France is one of her best. Her daughter has been brought up by her late husband's parents, and is a stranger to her mother, but she asks for her mother's help when she wants to marry, and Julia travels to France. Julia's warm personality makes things happen, and there is romance for both the young and middle aged. My best summer read this year so far.
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Format: Paperback
The Nutmeg Tree was first published in 1937 and was probably the 1930s version of chick-lit on its release. It was a lovely, light entertaining read - the perfect antidote to all the depressing books I've been subjecting myself to recently.

The story centres on Julia who is widowed after a very short marriage. She decides to leave her daughter, Susan, in the care of her in-laws to pursue a career on the stage. She has no contact with her daughter and is surprised to receive a letter from her twenty years later, begging her to come and visit the family in France.

"The point is that I want to get married and Grandmother objects."

Julia decides to be reunited with her daughter and travels to France at the first opportunity.

The Nutmeg Tree is a heart warming book, packed with details of an English way of life that just doesn't exist any more. The plot isn't the best thing I've ever read, but it did make me smile!

I would normally have a problem with a character that abandoned her daughter, but for some reason this didn't really come into it - I loved Julia's character and just accepted that things were different back then. Julia is such a bold character who finds herself in all sorts of sticky situations - I loved the ingenious ways in which she wormed her way out of trouble and her courtship behaviour was very entertaining.

This book will appeal to fans of Persephone books, and I hope that one day they reprint one of her books as Margery Sharp does deserve to be rediscovered.
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