Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Camomile Lawn

Helena Cuthbertson picked up the crumpled Times by her sleeping husband and went to the flower room to iron it.
Oh to have a flower room and the time to iron the papers! The Camomile Lawn has all the elements of a perfect novel. A big house overlooking the sea in Cornwall with a scented camomile lawn that slopes down to the coastal path. Helena and Richard lounging in their sunny garden, bickering over the newspapers and awaiting the arrival of their nephews and nieces. Polly, Walter, Calypso and Oliver, beautiful, young and amorous, arriving on the London train looking forward to their annual Penzance holiday. Ten-year old Sophie hiding on a branch up in the Ilex tree listening in to adult conversations. Plans for swimming in the cove, sunbathing and resurrecting Oliver's favourite game The Terror Run. All set against the gathering momentum of 1939 and the outbreak of World War 2.

Strange that we strongly associate Daphne Du Maurier with Cornwall, but not so much Mary Wesley. The Book Whisperer has an enticing review of another Wesley novel Part of the Furniture which I'd like to read. I've also recently been enjoying the posts and stunning photography on The Blue Cabin blog, admiring this yoga room and resolving to make more time for yoga like this fabulous lady. Trouble is, whenever I have some free time I pick up a book ...

15 comments:

frisbeebookjournal said...

I went through a stage where I read Mary Wesley.. My husband would go golfing and i'd trail around after him, sitting on the golf course and reading. I'll have to dig this one up again. I was fascinated by Wesley because she was so old when she started writing (or publishing) and I found that inspiring. (More so now that I'm actually older!)

Steph said...

I'm always so intrigued by the books you manage to find! So often I've never heard of them/their authors, but you've never steered me wrong! This one sounds lovely and wonderful, so I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Mrs. B. said...

I've had this on my shelf for months...got a copy from bookmooch and it's a bit worn so I haven't felt like reading it. Your review makes me want to finally tackle it though. Love the cover of the one you have.

The Book Whisperer said...

I am desperate to read this book - I must pick up a copy soon. Thanks for linking to my review of Part of the Furniture (I loved it!) - I have found another 3 second hand copies of other of hers recently which I can't wait to dive into.

Really glad you linked back also as I have found your blog now - I love it!

Boof x

bookssnob said...

I have wanted to read this for years but just never got around to it. It reminds me of Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher, or the Cazalet stories by Elizabeth Jane Howard, and as I loved those, I want this to be just as good. Look forward to your thoughts!

Connie said...

Oooh I WANT THIS!!!

Buried In Print said...

I've given this one some thought as well, so I look forward to hearing your response to it; I've also been eyeing the set of discs in the local video shop (they might be a BBC presentation), but they always mutter to me that I need to read the book first.

Bloomsbury Bell said...

I loved this book and have exactly the same copy as you. Such a great novel - and Calypso is a fabulous name for a character!

Jennifer said...

I adore this book. And I love the series they made of it with all sorts of super actors...Felicity Kendall, Paul Eddington etc. Excellent pick!

E. L. Fay said...

I love your description in the first paragraph. It starts out peaceful and pastoral and then we find out that it's 1939. For some reason, that makes the book sound sad.

LizF said...

This is a real blast from the past for me as I read it back in the 1980's when I was a young mum who discovered that one of the benefits of breastfeeding rather than bottle was that you could read at the same time!
I absolutely loved it then and so it must be due for a re-read - if only I could find a way to stretch time!

Vintage Reading said...

frisbee, yes wasn't she 70 when she was first published? I'd quite like to read Wild Mary, her biography, I believe she was quite a girl!

Steph, I hope you like this one! I've been an avid reader since I was 20 and I'm now 46 so I've packed quite a few books in!

Mrs B, let me know what you think of it - yes, the cover really evokes the novel.

The Book Whisperer - please let me know which other Wesley novels you recommend - the only other one I've read is A Sensible Life which was good but not as good as The Camomile Lawn.

Booksnob, I must read Pilcher - do you recommend starting with The Shell Seekers?

Connie, treat yourself!

Buried in Print, yes I watched the TV adaption, Tara Fitzgerald was excellent as Calypso.

Jennifer, ah yes, I'd forgotten Felicity Kendall was in it, can't remember who played Polly.

Bloomsbury Bell, there's now explanation as to why Calypso is given that name in the novel. I wouldn't have thought it was a popular name at that time.

EL Fay, it is sad, but also funny and quite bawdy and explicit in places, too.

LizF, I first read it in the eighties when it was published but it means more to me now than it did then - hope you find time for a re-read!

bookssnob said...

Nicola - yes, The Shell Seekers is wonderful, but my personal favourite is Coming Home - you would love that, I promise!

Meg said...

I've never heard of this one, but it sounds fabulous! Definitely adding it to my wishlist.

lyn said...

Mary Wesley is fantastic. I recently gave this book to my sister & she loved it & got hold of several more. Samuel West read several Wesleys for Chivers Audio & they're wonderful recordings. have you read the biography Wild Mary by Patrick Marnham? CL was based on Wesley's experiences in London during WWII.