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Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley
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Part of the Furniture (1997)

by Mary Wesley

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Seventeen year-old Juno Marlowe is heartbroken after having seen off her two best friends, bound for their army service during WWII at a London train station. Adding to her sorrow and confusion is the recent memory of a threesome which she hadn't planned for and didn't necessarily consent to, but before she has a chance to sort out her thoughts and feelings, she's grabbed by a kindly stranger who pulls her into his house for protection as an air raid is underway. The man is obviously in poor health, and even as he has innocently asked Juno to lie by his side, soon passes away, but not before having first written a letter to his father about the young girl. All these events are covered very quickly at the start of the story however, and the rest unfolds when Juno has made her way to the father's farm out in the English countryside. It's a wartime tale about the sorrow of loss and the hope new beginnings bring with wonderfully colourful characters, and best of all, Wesley's gorgeous prose. I wish I could do this book justice, because it is one that definitely deserves to be read an enjoyed by many. Wesley herself is an interesting character, as it seems she only took up writing in her 70th year after the passing of her husband, and went on to become a bestseling British author in the last 20 years of her life. Definitely an author I'll be reading a lot more from. This audio version was narrated by Samuel West, who could possibly be the love of my life, or at the very least, my very favourite narrator. ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Sep 2, 2012 |
Unloved by her mother, disliked by her aunt, considered a plaything by childhood friends, Juno is not thought of quite so much as a person in her own right but as ...well, just someone who's there.

With WWII escalating, her mother in Canada, now remarried, her aunt trying to bully her into signing up for some war service work, Juno is entrusted with a letter to deliver in the country wherein she finds herself warmly welcomed and seemingly immediately adopted by the inhabitants and neighbors.

Watching the relationships that develop between Juno, the housekeeper, the country gentleman in whose house she has come to live, the farm manager and the nosy neighbor is part of what makes this a truly delightful read, as does watching Juno learn to enjoy being among people who love and care for her. ( )
1 vote cameling | May 7, 2012 |
I don't know why but I had high expectations about this author. I hadn't read any of Wesley's novels before but I felt attracted to her stories, which seemed to be well crafted, accordingly to most of the reviews.
Well, I'm a bit deflated, to tell the truth.

The story: England, the Great World War. Juno is only 17, but already a misfit, appallingly innocent, left alone by her mother, who has remarried and fled to Canada, her father long dead and her cold aunt who doesn't care a bit for her. We meet Juno after leaving her two lovers on the train station, leaving to fight for their country. Abused and mistreated without even knowing it herself, Juno meets a dying young man during a bomb raid who leaves her the address of his family with a letter to be handed to his father, in a farm in Cornwall.
Without nowhere else to go, she decides to hand in the letter and finds such a warm welcome that she is compelled to stay, feeling for the first time that she is not part of the furniture.

I was hooked by the story; easy plot and fast paced, I finished the novel in just a couple of days.
But I have to say that the characters lacked depth, personality and charm.
How could a girl of 17 be so innocent? Juno seemed retarded sometimes, especially when talking about basic sexual aspects. She could be in the dark about the details but not about the whole thing. I think she wasn't developed enough as a character and that's why she seems to be a silly girl in several scenes of the book.

Robert and Ann are just talked about when they fit in the story, we don't know much about them, apart from Robert being an excellent lover who lost his wife and Ann being a not happily married woman who craves for the child she never had.

Moreover, the last chapter didn't help to improve my poor impression of the novel.
What other reviewers have called a "twist" is for me an unfathomable outcome, too unbelievable to be realistic and therefore, only an easy way to shock the reader, with no intention to look for that bittersweet ache left after turning the last page of a really good novel.

So, not an appalling reading, but not an exceeding one neither.
I don't know if I'll be reading more Wesley's in the future, having Jude Morgan's, Susanna Kearsley's and Jenifer Donnelly's books yet to discover... ( )
  Luli81 | Nov 3, 2011 |
I like Mary Wesley's novels because they are generally about a misfit finding or making a place where they do fit in. This one is no exception.

It is 1941, and Juno Marlowe, age 17 and not valued by her family or "friends", is on her own. Due to random circumstances she eventually finds herself in Cornwall, living on an estate called Copplestone. ( )
  sylviasotomayor | Feb 15, 2011 |
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Für meine Enkeltochter Katherine und für alle, die um ihrer Überzeugung willen das Gefängnis auf sich nehmen
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A full moon lit the street stretching ahead; it was a long street and empty.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140266283, Paperback)

The heroine of Mary Wesley's latest novel, Part of the Furniture, is 17- year-old Juno Marlowe, a girl possessed of both extraordinary innocence and remarkable courage. We first meet Juno during the World War II blitz of London; she is suffering the twin effects of rape and having to sleep next to a dead stranger during an air raid. Other novelists might have chosen to plumb these traumatic events for several chapters at least, but Wesley gives them no more time than she thinks they deserve and then moves quickly on to the heart of her story, which takes Juno far away to the western corner of England to deliver a letter from the dead man to his family. Here Juno meets the stranger's father, a man considerably older than herself, and finds her soulmate.

If there's such a thing as a steely-eyed romantic, Mary Wesley is one. On the one hand, she deals with death, rape, and other horrors with unsentimental straightforwardness and humor as black as a coal cellar; on the other, she is a firm believer in love's ability to heal even the deepest wounds. The pleasure of reading Part of the Furniture is observing this surprising marriage of love and pragmatism, as well as the unexpected twists and turns Wesley throws into her tale of loving during wartime.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:43 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When Juno Marlowe finds herself caught in the middle of a London air raid, she is quickly rescued by an elegant gentleman who offers her shelter and a mysterious invitation to his father's country estate. The next morning he is dead, and she is once again alone with nowhere to go. At seventeen, Juno is used to feeling invisible, but now, without family and friends, she finds herself desperately in need of companionship, some warm clothes, and above all, a life as more than part of the furniture. How Juno finds this and more is beautifully related in this irresistible novel from one of our most enchanting writers.… (more)

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