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Mariana (Persephone Classics) by Monica…

Mariana (Persephone Classics) (original 1940; edition 2009)

by Monica Dickens, Harriet Lane (Preface)

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4061426,236 (4.01)65
Title:Mariana (Persephone Classics)
Authors:Monica Dickens
Other authors:Harriet Lane (Preface)
Info:Persephone Books (2009), Paperback, 377 pages
Collections:Your library, Persephone Classics
Tags:Fiction, British, 20th Century, Persephone Classic

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Mariana by Monica Dickens (1940)



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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Fairly good, but not engrossing story. If I put it down for 2 days, couldn't remember enough about it to continue with re-reading several pages. I didn't think it was up to the usual standard of the Persephone Classics - which I am slowly trying to work my way through. ( )
  Jonlyn | Apr 11, 2014 |
Rather conventional. File this under 'Quite interesting, but don't read any others by this author. Possibly too autobiographical to be satisfying as a novel and the idealism of marriage was so idealistic.
  janetf8 | Apr 9, 2012 |
This novel, published in 1940, tells the simple story of a girl growing up in England just before World War II breaks out. Mary Shannon is the daughter of a working-class widow, but her father’s family is a wealthier and more genteel, so she spends all her holidays at Charbury, the Shannons’ country house. To Mary, Charbury is the most wonderful place in the world, and she spends an extremely happy childhood there. As Mary grows up, she experiences all the typical trials of school, first love, and uninspiring career paths. Through it all, she searches for – and eventually finds – true love, as well as a deeper understanding of her own identity.

This book is a gentle, slow-paced read that is packed with atmosphere. It’s a wonderfully vivid picture of English life in the 1930s, and it was easy to immerse myself in that world. The writing style is very British and fun to read, with several laugh-out-loud moments, especially in the descriptions of Mary’s family and friends. The plot is pretty slow-moving and meandering, following Mary through more than ten years of her life, but it maintains its direction as Mary continues her journey of self-discovery. If you’re in the mood for a coming-of-age story or a period piece, I would definitely recommend this book.
2 vote christina_reads | Feb 9, 2011 |
25 Dec 2009 - from Bridget

Somehow, I've bought this book for quite a few people but didn't have a copy of my own until Bridget bought me one for Christmas.

From the atmospheric start to this book, where we find Mary in a remote cottage with her dog, waiting for news of... someone... I was hooked. With the frame set in Essex, we then follow Mary back through her somewhat uneventful life between the wars, in a charming portrait of the trials of being a poorer relative, without a father, in thrall to your glamorous cousins and trying to find your way. London, the countryside and Paris are all beautifully described and, as Mary encounters several different gentlemen, we always have those opening scenes at the back of our mind - of whom, exactly, is she waiting for news, and are they worthy of her attention? I particularly liked the portrayal of adult London life through the eyes of the young Mary, and enjoyed a character who is not always attractive, or indeed interesting, but so well drawn.

Only aspect I really didn't like was the casual anti-Semitism - I suppose this has to be read as being "of its time" and it's not as bad as some other novels of the period! ( )
1 vote LyzzyBee | Apr 4, 2010 |
Mariana opens as Mary Shannon, a young English wife, hears the news on the wireless that the naval destroyer on which her husband is serving has struck a mine. There are survivors—but in the midst of a storm, the telephone lines are down, and Mary has to wait until morning to go into town to get more news. Unable to sleep, she lies in bed and looks back on her life to this point: her childhood and education, her relationship with her independent mother and the rest of her extended family, and her faltering search for the right man. The title of the novel comes from Tennyson's poem of the same name, about a waiting woman whose lover "cometh not."

The novel is episodic. Mary is an engaging character, and Dickens is an engaging and humorous writer, but this long novel (377 pages) will not sustain the interest of every reader. It's the kind of leisurely, character-driven novel I enjoy, in the rather specialized genre of the English girl's interwar coming-of-age story. Other novels in the genre include Rosamond Lehmann's Dusty Answer (1927), E. Arnot Robertson's Ordinary Families (1933), and, from a slightly later period, Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle (1948). Of these, Robertson's and and Smith's are my favorites. Both are written in the first-person, and capture not only the stories, but the distinctive voices of their young narrators. Perhaps especially for me, as a male reader, the first-person narration further collapses the distance between me and the female narrator, and makes it easier to enter her experience through her voice in my head.

Harriet Lane, in her introduction to the Persephone edition, writes that Dickens's handling of her material is "cinematic." Some of the most successful scenes early in the novel—the train journey to the family's summer home, the exhilarating hunt scene—unreel with cinematic vividness. Mary's uncle is an actor who makes a specialty of portraying slightly dotty monocled aristocrats, and eventually receives the call from Hollywood. Mary herself briefly attends acting school, before following her mother into the dressmaking business. Dressing up is important in the novel—costuming, surfaces that don't always conceal depths. Mary puts herself into various scenes—acting school, a Parisian romance—searching for one in which the depths will be as beautiful as the surfaces, in which she'll feel like she's living her own reality, not simply playing a part in someone else's scene.

Early in the novel, Mary's uncle invites her out to a Tom Mix cowboy feature. But Uncle Geoffrey falls in with a group of his theatrical friends, and ends up leaving Mary to go to the cinema alone. For Mary, the experience is emancipating. "She was one with the dashing, miraculous cowboy." Some art, some films and novels, creates that feeling of identification, that complete absorption in another life. But I never felt entirely absorbed in Mary's life. ( )
3 vote rbhardy3rd | Feb 6, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Monica Dickensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lane, HarrietIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Henry & Fanny
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Mary sometimes heard people say: "I can't bear to be alone."
She worried a little, but not for long, because the day was too glorious, and she could never worry as intensely in the open air as she did indoors.
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This novel from 1940 is the touching, humorous story of a young English girl's growth towards maturity in the 1930s. We see her at school, on holiday in Somerset, her attempt at drama school, her year in Paris learning dressmaking and getting engaged to the wrong man, and finally the arrival of Mr Right.… (more)

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