Skip to main content

Review: Troy Chimneys, by Margaret Kennedy


Pages: 245
Original date of publication: 1952
My edition: 1985 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: LT recommendation
How I acquired my copy: the Philadelphia Book Trader, October 2010


Margaret Kennedy’s 1953 novel tells the history of Miles Lufton, a self-made MP from a large family and the owner of Troy Chimneys, an estate in Wiltshire. Although the house’s name is the title of the novel, the focus is on Miles and his rise to prominence in the early 19th century. The book follows Miles’s political career less than it does his personal life, told in a series of letters and “memoir” entries, paired with letters from Miles’s Victorian descendants, who are rather horrified at his behavior.

Margaret Kennedy’s novel has a very Jane Austen feeling to it, since she focuses mostly on what goes on the drawing room, so to speak; there’s this lovely, idyllic, and pastoral quality to Troy Chimneys that you just don’t find in the world of politics that Miles moves in. Miles buys the house as a means of security against the day when he retires from politics; yet the great irony of the situation is that he does before he has a chance to enjoy it.

Our hero has two different personae in this novel: Miles, the upright, correct politician; and Pronto, a gambling, flirt who lives on the wild side, so to speak. They are constantly at odds with one another, as you might imagine. At first, while I was reading this, I was confused by these two sides to Miles’s character, but the more I read, the more I began to see what Pronto represented in Miles’s life; Pronto is the side of Miles that gets to do all the things that Miles dreams of but can’t bring himself to do or be.

Comments

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…

Review: The Tudor Secret, by CW Gortner

Pages: 327Original date of publication:My edition: 2011 (St. Martin’s)Why I decided to read: Heard about this through Amazon.comHow I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, December 2010Originally published as The Secret Lion, The Tudor Secret is the first in what will be a series featuring Brendan Prescott, an orphan foundling who was raised in the household of the Dudley family. In 1553, King Edward is on his deathbed, and William Cecil gives a secret mission Brendan. Soon he finds himself working as a double agent, as he attempts to discover the secret of his own birth.There ‘s a lot to like in this novel, mainly in the historical details that the author weaves into the story. He knows Tudor history like the back of his hand, and it definitely shows in this book. Because it was his first novel, however, there are some rough patches. There were a couple of plot holes that I had trouble navigating around—primarily, why would a secretive man such as Cecil entrust a seemingly nobody with this …