Skip to main content

Review: Taking Chances, by Molly Keane

Pages: 272

Original date of publication: 1929

My edition: 1988 (Virago)

Why I decided to read: I’m in the process of reading everything by Molly Keane and this one seemed to fit my mood.

How I acquired my copy: Ebay, August 2010

After reading The Rising Tide, I’m now on a mission to read everything by Molly Keane (who wrote under the pseudonym MJ Farrell). Taking Chances is one of her earlier books, published as MJ Farrell, and is the story of three siblings: Roguey, Maeve, and Jer, although the story is told with Jer’s sensibility. The story opens with Maeve’s marriage to Rowley, a neighboring landowner, and the arrival of Maeve’s bridesmaid, Mary, from London. The women are as different as different could be, and Rowley and Mary are instantly attracted to one another.

Taking Chances is another really good one from Molly Keane. Her books usually feature great, sprawling piles in the Irish countryside, and her characters are very much in to hunting and horses (Molly Keane was born into “a rather serious Hunting and Fishing Church-going family,” so it makes sense that so many of her novels should be focused on this theme). Taking Chances does indeed center around a family estate, Sorristown, of which Roguey is the master. He and his siblings are very tightly knit, and so the intrusion of Rowley and Mary and their love affair makes for an interesting complication in the siblings’ relationships with each other.

I love, love, love the way in which Molly Keane describes her characters’ emotions. As I said before, although the book is mostly about the three siblings, the story is told from Jer’s point of view—Jer, the youngest, with his stammer. It seems as though he’s the only one who knows exactly what’s going on between Mary and Rowley, and I was interested in his reaction to all that goes on. At the same time, I felt very sorry for him—he’s the least strong of the three siblings, but he has to bear the full brunt of everyone’s actions. And poor Meave, too—maybe to be ignorant truly is bliss? Until the end, she’s the only one who’s truly content with the situation. This novel gives its reader a lot to think upon, and it’s because of that that this book is so powerful. It’s too bad that Molly Keane’s books are by and large unknown, because she was truly a fabulous writer.


Mystica said…
I like family sagas of the era. Maybe something in the style of Pamela Oldfield.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…