Tuesday, January 15

Not That Sort of Girl - Mary Wesley

The only child of parents who've long since stopped caring about each other, Rose Freeling knew her mother watned her safely (and securely) married off young. That's why, after all, she was sent off with the irritating Nicholas and Emily Thornby to a tennis party - George and Richard Malone's eigible cousin Ned was staying over, and Rose's mother was keep for them to become acquainted. Rose's mother couldn't have known that she'd also meet Mylo, the boys' language tutor.
Decades later, Rose reflects on her life - the decisions she made, the promise she kept, and the affair that lasted as long as her marriage. Now widowed, Rose needs to decide what to do next, and whether it's time to let people know that she's not as neatly contained as everyone in her life believes.
Mary Wesley wrote beautiful novels about relationships, social expectation, and unconventional English women. Her descriptions are spare but eloquent, and her sense of place is impecable. But the stand out is her characters - in Not That Sort of Girl every character is multi-layered and three dimensional, and they retain integrity throughout. I was introduced to Mary Wesley by my mother, about ten years ago, when I glutted on the entire collection and am only just returning now to savour her writing. My mother, who hasn't read Wesley since then, vividly remembered specific details about the Thornby malicious siblings; even without the beautiful love story, the delightful private lives of the servants, the torturous Freeling parental relationship and the unexpected depth of secondary characters like George and Richard's mother, it's worth reading Not That Sort of Girl just to encounter the twisted Emily and Nicholas. Delicious! Alex

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