Skip to main content

Review: The Ladies of Lyndon, by Margaret Kennedy


Pages: 320

Original date of publication: 1932

My edition: 1981 (Dial Press)

Why I decided to read: heard about this through LT

How I acquired my copy: the Philly Book Trader, December 2010

Although written in the 1920s, The Ladies of Lyndon is set in Edwardian England and during and after the First World War. Agatha is one of the most sought-after debutantes of her season, and she marries John Clewer in order to become mistress of Lyndon. Her marriage is unhappy, and she finds comfort in her relationship with an old flame.

This is a novel that explores various characters’ search for satisfaction in their lives—oddly enough, it’s John’s brother James who is happiest with his life, although everyone thinks he’s rather “off.” However, because James is the one who’s most comfortable with himself and his life, he’s one of the most endearing characters in this book—along with his wife, Dolly the former housemaid. By marrying her, James raises a lot of eyebrows, but he really and truly doesn’t care what people think—and this is what makes his one of the more self-fulfilled characters in this book.

Agatha, however, is another story. Married at a young age, she’s not quite as self-aware as some of the other characters are, and so she basically gets pushed into her marriage with John. So the road she follows to achieve happiness is interesting and unconventional, to say the least. It’s the characters that drive this novel; and although the plot is in itself interesting, it’s not quite as interesting as the people that populate it. This story could so easily have been cliché, but it’s not. Instead, it’s a wonderfully charming book. This was Margaret Kennedy’s first book (incidentally, it was published when she was my age, 27), and it shows the promise of great things to come. I’ve been trying to track down copies of some of Kennedy’s other books, and can’t wait to read more!

Comments

Teddy Rose said…
I hadn't heard of this before, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I added it to my TBR. I love learning about "new to me" classics and you are an excellent resource for them!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

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

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

2015 Reading

January
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

February
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

March
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…