Saturday, 28 February 2009

Invitation to the Waltz

She must put on a new frock - her new raspberry-ice-pink cotton frock with short sleeves and round neck, just back from the dressmaker. The rough crepe stuff clung, she smelt the faint pungency of fresh unwashed cotton.
What a pleasure it was to read Invitation to the Waltz over the weekend. Lehmann described this short novel as 'very cheerful' and that's exactly what it is.

Olivia and her elder sister Kate are preparing for their coming-out dance in a country house. While everything comes easily to Kate, Olivia goes through agonies about her dress and her blank dance card. Consequently she is cornered at the dance by a hostile poet, an arrogant bore and a lecherous old man until rescued by her friend and hostess, the charming Marigold.

This book reminded me a little of a brilliant Katherine Mansfield short story I read many years ago called Her First Ball. Lehmann is very good on coming-of-age. The Mansfield story probably has darker resonances.

When I read The Weather in the Streets I didn't realise that Invitation to the Waltz came first chronologically. I would have had a greater understanding of the characters in The Weather in the Streets if I'd read the novels in the right order.

I really want to read Dusty Answer now.


kristina said...

These sound like just my kind of novels, and now I know what order to read them in! K x

Tara said...

I love your photo! I actually have a copy of this but haven't read it yet so thank you for your review.

Anonymous said...

These do sound so inviting! I must add this author to my list.

Vintage Reading said...

I think I can safely say I'm going through a Lehmann phase right now! Nicola

Anonymous said...

Do you know the biography Selina Hastings wrote about Rosamond Lehmann? Also a lovely book!

Vintage Reading said...

Hi, thank you for mentioning this. I wasn't aware there was a biography of Lehmann but I'll note this in my reading journal. I'd like to know more about her life.