I want to say thank you to everyone who played a part in this celebration of the lovely legacy of books that Margery Sharp left to the world.
I found some spring flowers for you all.
And for her, of course.
I’m delighted that ten titles have reissued as e-books since last year’s Margery Sharp Day; making her work much more accessible than it had been.
I hope that there will be more reissues – and paper books too – so that we can read many more of Margery Sharp’s wonderful words, and draw others into her world.
We covered a wonderful range of titles between us.
The Flowering Thorn (1933)
“A charming, funny and rather moving novel. Socialite Lesley Frewen decides on a whim to adopt the orphaned Patrick, a somewhat stolid child, much to the surprise and horror of her relatives and somewhat vapid friends. This precipitates a move to the country, and all the travails that come with this”
“I was surprised by the lack of romance in the novel. Although Lesley does have one or two love interests, things tend to be one-sided and it’s not until the very end of the book that there’s a hint of an actual romance for her. I found this quite refreshing as it meant the focus was on other things.”
The Stone of Chastity (1940)
“I found it easy to believe in these people, the things they said and the things they did, and that the Stone of Chastity might be sitting somewhere in the very real village of Gillenham; even though I knew that it was the product of the author’s wonderful imagination and that her plot was exceedingly improbable!”
“There are many funny scenes in this book. My favorite came late in the story, as the Professor plans to cap his research with a public trial of the Stone. He forces the reluctant Nicholas to draw a poster inviting the local women to take part, which he posts (over Nicholas’s objections) on the church door.”
Cluny Brown (1944)
Madame Bibi Lophile said:
“Comic and affectionate, Cluny Brown would be easy to dismiss as lacking depth. But it is so superbly written, with such verve and understanding of human beings, that to do so would be mistake. Invite Cluny into your life, she’ll charm you, I promise…”
“Although her uncle had hoped learning how to clean and serve would sober her, Cluny, of course, brings her zest and curiosity with her – and changes the lives of everyone around her, including a few gentlemen who are not prepared for her influence – one in particular. Of course, the ending is happily ever after – but with a surprising twist.”
“Margery Sharp’s Cluny is truly memorable. She’s slightly ‘off’ just like Sharp’s Martha of the ‘Martha trilogy ‘ and that makes her totally endearing to me. She doesn’t follow societal norms but does follow her instincts. And if that means that she will never know her place in life, then so be it.”
Britannia Mews (1946)
“The pace of the novel never lets up, and the large jumps in time make it feel a bit breathless occasionally. Overall, though, Sharp makes it work, and packs a huge variety of incident and plot, and also of thought and passion and artistry, into a remarkably compact space — not unlike the Mews themselves. I enjoyed every page of this delightful book, probably my favorite Margery Sharp so far.”
The Eye of Love (1957)
“Being someone who’s addicted to series mysteries, I’m always so happy to find the Thirkells and Trollopes and other fictions that work this way, too, and normally I’d try to read them in order, but in this case I started in the middle, then went back, and then went forward. It didn’t seem to matter: Martha was so well formed that meeting her as a fledgling artist, then a child, then a famous painter made perfect sense.”
“I really enjoyed this book. A quirky tale, concisely told with enough subplots to keep me interested … There is humour in it. The writing is descriptive enough without being over bearing and the characters came to life for me.”
Madame Bibi Lophile said:
“I adored Martha. Stubborn, self-possessed, strong-willed and lacking any sentimentality, she was just wonderful. Sharp wrote two sequels about this unforthcoming heroine, ‘Martha in Paris’ and ‘Martha, Eric and George’, which I will hunt down forthwith.”
And Poppy spent the afternoon with this book.
Martha, Eric and George (1963)
“A charming book with wonderful characters. It opens with Eric coming home for lunch finding a carrycot with a baby in …Ten years later Martha returns to Paris with an exhibition of her work. You will just have to read this lovely book to find out if all ends well.”
“In reading these two books, I was reminded how skilled Margery Sharp is at drawing her characters. Sometimes, it’s because they resolutely remain themselves; other times, it’s because they reveal something surprising, and in Martha, at least, wonderfully, it’s a little of both.”
The Innocents (1972)
“It is a much later Margery Sharp novel, first published in 1972 – it has a rather different feel to the two I have read before. The style is much simpler in many ways, and yet there was something about the writing style that jarred with me a little … However, the story itself is lovely, engrossing and readable, and quite moving. Margery Sharp tells a touchingly brave story, one I suspect was not often told even in the 1970s.”
“I loved the descriptions of the village, its physical appearance as well as its spirit, its people. The first part of the novel, which deals with getting to know the child and getting to learn how to meet its needs, is wonderful. (And can be used as a textbook.) Sharp writes well and has a great command over her story.”
The Rescuers (1977)
“Margery Sharp puts her female mice on centre stage. Madame Chairperson in the Prisoner’s Aid Society dares to speak out of turn, in order to have the case of a particular prisoner heard … In some ways, Miss Bianca is a mouse of the 1950s. She recognises that “there is nothing like housework for calming the nerves”. But in other ways, she is quite the revolutionary.”
Now 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.
I’m still dreaming of finding a copy of ‘Rhododendron Pie’, that oh so elusive first novel.
And I’m really hoping that more of Margery Sharp’s books will be sent back out into the world soon ….