I want to say thank you to everyone who played a part in this celebration of the lovely legacy of books that Margaret Kennedy left to the world.
I found some summer flowers for you all.
Thank you to everyone who found a book to read, and everyone who spread the word.
We covered a wonderful range of titles between us.
The Ladies of Lyndon (1923)
“Young ladies, sisters, domineering mothers, widows, martyring step-mothers and maids. Kennedy gives us time inside all of their heads, and although we may not necessarily sympathise with all of them, we can empathise. And that’s where the secret to Kennedy’s success lies – her authentic dialogue and believable characters.”
“James is far and away the most interesting character in the book but he is really only on the periphery which is a real shame. As I said, I enjoyed this but this is the first book by Margaret Kennedy that I’ve read and I’m sure her writing must have developed and improved as her writing career advanced. I’ll be reading more of her later books anyway.”
The Constant Nymph (1924)
“The beauty and spirit of this book lies in the Tyrolean chapters, where the children roamed free and uninhibited in the bosom of nature. Teresa, whilst described as being far from beautiful by Kennedy, is always described in the most loving terms by Lewis. Teresa’s constancy of heart can be witnessed at every step of the story, proving to us that this blessed trait can be found in the very young too. It is a valuable lesson to be reminded of.”
Red Sky at Morning (1927)
“Margaret Kennedy captures the childhood and the post World War 1 era marvellously. You can so picture the brilliant countryside in spring as well the glittering parties of London, especially the gentle mockery of the London social and theatre scene . You can see the grotesque Monk Hall and you can see Emily’s bedroom in London….the word pictures are completely clear and absolutely delightful.”
Return I Dare Not (1931)
“There is little plot to be found, but the characters and their situations were so very well drawn, and that kept me turning the pages. Margaret Kennedy was clear-sighted, she was psychologically acute, and she made these characters and their world live and breathe. I didn’t stop to think about whether I liked or disliked them, because I was having a lovely time people-watching.”
Together and Apart (1936)
“One of the amazing things about the book is that it hardly feels dated. I felt I could have been reading about a modern family – the same struggles, fears, financial concerns, and child custody and neglect issues as written about in contemporary family dramas appear in this novel.”
The Feast (1950)
“This author grabbed me by starting with the catastrophic ending. Because you see, there were survivors. Some of the guests were enjoying an outdoors party on a nearby cliff when the horrific event happened. Their flashback stories, along with diary entries of other guests and various letters paint a colorful picture of the lodgers and the week leading up to the disaster.”
“I particularly loved the almost Hitchcockian way that Kennedy employed the natural world to heighten the sense of crisis. The widening cracks in the bluff above; the sudden lack of nesting gulls in the cliffside; the mass exodus of scurrying mice across the patio, the intermittent fall of rocks from above…all tell the reader that the disaster is imminent. The household though, at least until the very last, remains pitifully unaware.”
Lucy Carmichael (1951)
“When you’re only on a novel’s twelfth page, and you’ve already been introduced to seven characters you’re longing to spend more time with, you probably know you’re in for a good thing. Even if you’re meeting most of them for the first time through someone who strikes you as a not-very-reliable narrator (not that you’d want her any another way).”
“Whilst there is a lot to like in Lucy Carmichael, it perhaps was not as well plotted or constructed as it could have been, and for a tenth novel by such a formidable author, this surprises me somewhat.”
Troy Chimneys (1953)
“I was so impressed by the writing and by Margaret Kennedy’s grasp of the period (or periods, as there are really two) in which the story takes place. The Victorian letters felt authentic and Miles Lufton’s own narrative style felt so much like the voice of a Regency gentleman that I could easily forget I was reading a book written in the 1950s and by a woman.”
“I loved the way Margaret Kennedy writes, her portrayal of the characters, the delicate balance of their relationships, and the snippets of period detail. I had no idea what to expect, but I really enjoyed this book, and liked the structure, which had an early 19th century feel to it, very much in keeping with the period in which it is set, and epistolary novels were very popular.”
“Troy Chimneys is a poignant exploration of one man’s inner turmoil, and the lost opportunities that dominate his life. This was a much more engrossing and compelling read than I had possibly expected. The structure is a little unusual as is the subject matter – but I found I quickly got drawn into the narrative of Miles’s story.”
The Wild Swan (1957)
“‘The Wild Swan’ is a novel that reminded me of other books about writers & their literary afterlives. Like A S Byatt’s Possession & Carol Shields’ ‘Mary Swann’ the central conceit of a writer from the past whose life has been misinterpreted & taken over by modern academics is one that has always fascinated me. The idea that we can ever really know a person from another age, no matter how much material they leave behind is fraught with danger.”
* * * * * *
I think that’s everyone, but if it isn’t let me know and I’ll put things right.
I’m looking forward to seeing who reads what next.
And maybe thinking of other underappreciated authors who deserve special days of their own ….
27 thoughts on “A Thank You Letter after Margaret Kennedy Day”
Thank you so much for this day, Jane! As for what I’ll read next…all of them, if I can. 🙂
You’re very welcome. I look forward to hearing your thought on other books in due course.
Has FURROWED MIDDLEBROW “snagged” the rights to Rhododendron Pie and if so why have other bloggers not done so before?He has yet to reveal the last book on his soon to be reprinted list.
I’m as in the dark as you are Sue. I’d be surprised if he has given that a major publisher has snared the rights to many of her other works.
Wonderful hosting and some great reviews. I’m glad to see “The Feast” was so popular – I feel like reading it again now!
It is an exceptional book – I’m tempted to pick my copy up again too.
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Thank you! I’m just so happy I finally got round to reading one of her books. And I can look forward to reading lots more – if I can find them. Perhaps we should start a campaign to try and get her books published again.
Virago seems to have let Margaret Kennedy go but all her novels except the last are in print. Most are print on demand, some from Vintage and some from Faber Finds.
Thanks for hosting this, Jane. I’m glad I was able to take part – and that I loved the book I chose. 🙂
I hoped that Troy Chimneys would be your kind of book, and I was delighted to find that it was.
Thank you for hosting the Day, Jane. I’m looking forward to reading more Kennedy. I think Lucy C may be next.
Thank you for taking part. It’s been lovely seeing others reading one of my favourite authors, and I think that you and Lucy will be very well matched.
Thank you so much for hosting this Jane as it prompted me to finally read the Kennedy languishing on my TBR.
And thanks for the tip to start at the beginning. I’m hoping to work my way through now in chronological order.
I love rediscovering these all but forgotten authors (I felt the same when I read my first Edna Ferber recently). Do Elizabeth Bowen & Monica Dickens count? If to rediscover them one day 😊
Thanks once again. The Ladies of Lyndon was a lovely way to spend a cold, rainy weekend in Sydney.
I think they would both count, though given that Bowen can be a difficult read she might suit a week better that a day.
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Thanks for the heads up about Bowen – I have 2 on my TBR. I read stacks of Monica in my twenties, but would love to revisit her one day.
I’m sorry I wasn’t able to join in this year, despite my best plans & even starting one of her books. I still have that and two others of her books on the TBR stacks, so I hope to celebrate her later this year. And I added a couple of titles to my list, from reading the reviews!
I missed you, but I do understand that one day can’t be the right time for everyone. I shall look forward to seeing which of Margaret Kennedy’s books you read next and what you have to say about them.
I’m thankful that you organized this day. It was excited being a part of the discussion. Also, I found a few blogs to follow of like-minded readers. That is also exciting! Thanks again.
Thank you – it’s lovely to find someone else who appreciates a favourite author and the same kind of books.
Finally scheduled my Troy Chimneys review for tomorrow morning.
That’s great – I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts.
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Thank you, Jane! Together and Apart has been the most enjoyable reading experience I’ve had all month and I’m so glad that you organized this day and introduced many of us to Kennedy’s writing for the first time.
Sorry I wasn’t able to take part and glad it went so well and busily!
Is THE FEAST the sequel or prequel to Lucy Carmichael?
The Feast was published a year before Lucy Carmichael, but there’s no connection at all between the two stories.
I have to re-arrange myself and would like eventually to join in on these group blogs celebrating an author. Like Elizabeth Bowen as well. I’ve never read any Monica Dickens. I thought The Constant Nymph a masterpiece, and liked Troy Chimneys enormously too. I believe Kennedy also wrote screenplays for the BBC (but am not sure)
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