Tuesday, 7 April 2009

More Olivia Manning

Somebody seems to be donating all their Olivia Manning Virago Modern Classics to my local second hand bookshop. Keep them coming please! After the completion of The Balkan Trilogy Manning wanted to write a contemporary novel which captured the spirit of the 1960's. The Play Room was published in 1969. The cover shows the painting Daisy Fairy by Peter Blake.

Fifteen-year old Laura is bullied at school, deeply insecure about the way she looks and worships her classmate, the beautiful Vicky. When Vicky's best friend Gilda goes abroad for the summer Laura becomes close to Vicky and the two of them spend Saturday nights at the local disco where they enjoy their power to attract local men until Vicky takes things too far.

I do like coming-of-age stories and Manning has drawn on her own adolescent experiences to create a convincing portrayal of teen angst. There are some disturbing sexual elements to this story but it is sometimes good to read outside of your comfort zone. I like this extract, where Laura goes shopping for clothes with her mother:

They went on a Thursday to a South Camperlea chain store where dresses of metallic brilliance hung on a line marked 'STRAIGHT FROM CARNABY STREET', Laura went behind a screen and came out wearing a shift made of polyvinylchloride treated to look like gold. It had trimmings of yellow, purple and pink, and it looked to Mrs Fletcher like a cruel joke played on youth.

1 comment:

Christy said...

Thank you for leaving your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed my Blog. You mentioned recomendations.

A Victorian author and illustrator I like is Mary Hallock Foote.

Also of interest is Stegner, who wrote Angle of Repose. He won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize. He quoted directly from her biography and never attributed the passages to her. Another slap of plagiarism.

I must say I enjoyed reading Angle of Repose, and only found out the other information, after reading it.

I think you'd like her insight into the West.