Saturday, December 09, 2006
I've finished Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann, the first book on my TBR list to be tackled. Wow. Written and set in the 1920's, it is shockingly modern. We thought we were risque in college; no, indeed, these girls did it all many years before us.
The plot : young only child Judith, immured in the countryside, becomes fascinated with the group of cousins who stay summers with their grandmother next door. Judith grows up, to become romantically linked with 3 of the boys in succession, as well as a college mate named Jennifer. But all of these relationships are uncertain and ephemeral. I should have read the title page quote before beginning it -- that may have given me more of an idea of what I was getting myself into! It is a quote by George Meredith: "Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul / when hot for certainties in this our life! "
The writing style reminds me of other women writers of the same generation; ie: Rumer Godden, Elizabeth Goudge, Dodie Smith, but the themes and the lack of circumlocution are startling and refreshing. I really enjoyed the feeling that this was a different world they were living in. All the basic assumptions underlying the storytelling were so foreign - in some ways I feel that I am closer to the great Victorian novels in their views of society. What a weird blip the 20's and 30's were! I was quite impressed by this novel; so much so that I've gone on and read another of her books, Invitation to the waltz, which was at the library rather than go to my next TBR pick! I will get to my stack shortly...
**One warning : read with tissues near by. I was snivelling at the point where Judith's relationship with Roddy, the first of the cousins, comes to its apex.