Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Foolish Gentlewoman

The Foolish Gentlewoman, by Margery Sharp

I think this must be one of my oldest TBR books.  I got it from my grandmother's bookshelves in, I think, 1996.  She gave me a whole lot of books right around then, some of them quite old and fun--titles like What Can A Woman Do? or Collier's Cyclopedia of Social and Commercial Information and instructional sewing books from the 1920's.  There were also several new books of history.  And this is the one I never got around to reading!

Margery Sharp lives in my head as the author of the Miss Bianca books about the mice of the Prisoners' Aid Society, which I read over and over as a kid (my favorite was the one in the salt mines).  But she was also a very popular novelist!  Cluny Brown must be the best-known title, and it was made into a movie. 

The Foolish Gentlewoman is set just after World War II in a large old house in a London suburb.  Isabel, the owner, is an affectionate and wooly-headed woman (I love her) who has gathered relatives and friends to live there.  The story is mainly told from the view of her grumpy brother-in-law.  All these people have their stories and everything is going just fine until Isabel decides that she must make up for an old wrong by inviting another person into her home.

I enjoyed the story and was really pretty surprised by the ending.  It was not the nice neat happy package that I was expecting Sharp to pull out of a hat somehow, in the way that light novels usually end. 

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