Monica Dickens's first book, published in 1940, could easily have been called Mariana - an Englishwoman. For that is what it is: the story of a young English girl's growth towards maturity in the 1930s. We see Mary at school in Kensington and on holiday in Somerset; her attempt at drama school; her year in Paris learning dressmaking and getting engaged to the wrong man; her time as a secretary and companion; and her romance with Sam. We chose this book because we wanted to publish a novel like Dusty Answer, I Capture the Castle or The Pursuit of Love, about a girl encountering life and love, which is also funny, readable and perceptive; it is a 'hot-water bottle' novel, one to curl up with on the sofa on a wet Sunday afternoon. But it is more than this. As Harriet Lane remarks in her Preface: 'It is Mariana's artlessness, its enthusiasm, its attention to tiny, telling domestic detail that makes it so appealing to modern readers.'
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Monica Dickens was born in London in 1915. Her father was Henry Charles Dickens, the eighth son of Charles Dickens. She was an active humanitarian and is the author of numerous novels and children's books. Now a freelance journalist, Harriet Lane worked as a reporter and columnist for the London Observer.From Library Journal:
First published about 1940, this novel was written by a great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens. The story is about one terrible night during which a woman waits to hear whether her husband has survived the sinking of his ship by a German sub. Mary recalls idyllic childhood summers spent at the family's country house-playing with cousins, riding ponies and, in later years, fox hunts and dances. The beautiful prose and apt dialog are beautifully narrated by Jane Asher. One caveat: a whiff of anti-Semitism appears; for instance, Mary is devastated to learn that, after the country house is sold to a Jewish man, the tree she used to swing from as a child has been cut down for firewood. She thinks it wrong that her tree was sacrificed so that "a rich Jew" can warm his toes by the fire. Otherwise, this is a fine additon to fiction collections.
Luana Ellis, Jamestown Community Coll. Lib., Olean, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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