Skip to main content

Review: Cindie, by Jean Devanny


Pages: 332
Original date of publication: 1949
My edition: 1986 (Virago Modern Classics)
Why I decided to read: I read it for All Virago/All August
How I acquired my copy: found it in a secondhand bookshop near work


Cindie tells the story of a young woman who goes to Queensland, Australia, to work for Randolph Biddow, who owns a sugar plantation, his wife, Blanche, and their two young children. Cindie thrives in her new environment, and she rises to become manager on the estate. Sharply in contrast to her is Blanche, who complains ceaselessly about her new life and feels bitter and jealous towards her former maid.

It’s a beautiful story, made even more vivid by the lush way in which Jean Devanny describes North Queensland and the people who inhabit it. She highlights beautifully the differences between whites, Aborigines, and Kanakas, set against a real historical event: the creation of the Commonwealth Bill in the 1890s, under which Australia’s Constitution was made legal by Queen Victoria. There’s a distinct difference between the whites and the natives, and it’s interesting to see how such a major turning point in Australia’s history influenced them. I loved Jean Devanny’s description of the place in which the novel is set; I do love it when a place becomes a character on its own.

But the star of the show is, of course, Cindie, who proves herself to be a likeable character, despite the fact that she can seem distant sometimes. She’s hard-working and industrious, and doesn’t take the way she’s treated by Blanche lying down. She’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind; nor is she afraid to assert her independence by not marrying. In direct contrast to Cindie, of course, is her employer Blanche, who dislikes Cindie once she begins to take on more responsibility around the plantation. She’s suspicious and distrustful of how much trust Randolph places in Cindie, but sometimes I think Blanche goes overboard in her behavior. Despite my problems with Blanche’s character, I really enjoyed this novel.

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…

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…

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…