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.”
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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 ….