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Review: Devoted Ladies, by Molly Keane

Pages: 303

Original date of publication: 1934

My edition: 1984 (Virago)

Why I decided to read: Read this for Virago Reading Week

How I acquired my copy: The Book Trader, October 2010

I’ve been really up and down with Molly Keane’s books. On one hand, I loved The Rising Tide and Taking Chances; on the other, I really didn’t like Loving Without Tears or this one. This is the story of the friendship between two women in London (and then, in true Molly Keane fashion, a decaying old estate in Ireland). Jane is a weak-willed woman who is caught between her friendship with Jessica and her budding relationship with George Playfair; Jessica is controlling and manipulative.

Neither of the two main characters is particularly likable, which made it hard for me to care what ultimately happened to them. Jane is practically a doormat and not that smart; Jessica gets herself involved in everybody else’s life, which I found irritating to the extreme. Their relationship is passionate, stormy, and I couldn’t quite see why they were friends in the first place. I also didn’t like Piggy, and not because of the lesbian element; I just didn’t care for her character all that much.

Molly Keane had a very sharp sense of humor; sarcasm practically drips off the page, especially when they characters talk about each other. Sarcasm and wit is one thing, but I thought the excess was a bit too over the top. However, I did like some of Keane’s characterizations, especially Albert the (gay) manservant. In addition, much of the story takes place through dialogue; there’s not much action, which makes this novel a bit hard to follow at times. It’s too bad I didn’t like this one, but since I have the rest of Molly Keane’s oeuvre on the TBR shelf, I’m going to soldier on.


Ann said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann said…
Don't you hate it when that happens? A fav author who doesn't quite deliver on a book? I had the same with Paullina Simons - loved all of her books until the latest one which took me a whole summer to get through...painful!
I haven't read any of Molly Keane - what would you recommend I start with?

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