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Mariana (Persephone Classics) by Monica…

Mariana (Persephone Classics) (original 1940; edition 2008)

by Monica Dickens, Harriet Lane (Preface)

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4692122,081 (3.99)75
Title:Mariana (Persephone Classics)
Authors:Monica Dickens
Other authors:Harriet Lane (Preface)
Info:Persephone Books Ltd (2008), Paperback, 377 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Classics, General Fiction, TBR

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Mariana by Monica Dickens (1940)



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It was impressive for me to have finished this book considering I found it insufferably boring. The book opens with the main character Mary, it's during World War 2 and she has just found out that a military vessel has sunk and she has no idea whether her husband is one of the rescued or a casualty. It is the middle of the night and there just so happens to be a violent storm so the telephone lines are down and she has to wait until morning before she can find out anything. The story flashes back from that point to tell Mary's entire life story from childhood; I found the reading experience to be about as interesting as watching paint dry.

I do usually enjoy character driven plots but Mariana made me realise that I prefer the main character to go through some sort of hardship in order for it to be compelling to me. Mary experiences no hardship whatsoever, she maybe broke a nail one time or something equally ridiculous. There was nothing about her life that interested me in the slightest. Actually, her brief relationship with Pierre was probably the only part that I enjoyed and that was half a chapter.

There is a lot of cutting and bitchy commentary throughout the entire book, Mary is constantly judging other girls. She is harsh about their looks, weight, intelligence and even slut shames some poor girl because she had a passionate embrace with her fiancé on a bench at a party. I understand this book was originally published in 1940, but still - I guess some things never change. Mary's vitriol is even turned against herself as she buys a dress that is too small and then is full of self-loathing because one of the seams keeps popping open. Mary spends a good majority of the whole book just bemoaning at how fat she is. That is honestly as interesting as the story gets.

I found Mary to be self-absorbed, living in a privileged bubble, spoiled and vapid. She did not have a single interesting thought during the entire book. The other characters just blended into one and I really regret wasting my time struggling to finish it as it never redeemed itself. The biggest disappointment of the year so far. ( )
  4everfanatical | Sep 19, 2016 |
Mary Shannon has gone away to brood while her husband is at war in WW II. During a storm she hears on the radio that her husband's ship has gone down; frantically, she tries to telephone to get news, but her line is down. During the long night, she remembers her life from about age 8, and it is part coming of age and part becoming her own person. This is the second novel by Monica Dickens, the great- granddaughter of Charles Dickens, and she said that it was semi-autobiographical.

Part of this book gripped me more than others. I did root for Mary, even if she was often self-centered; I think that is a natural part of most children's development, and if she didn't get out of it as early as many of us think she should have, just look around at how many self-centred teens and early twenties people there are today.

As far as women authors went, Monica Dickens was only outsold at that time by Daphne du Maurier, however, her work hasn't remained as popular over time. I haven't read du Maurier for years, so can't give a good comparison as to why, but I do think it's a shame she's so little known now. I didn't love this book, although I suspect that when I was younger I'd have liked it more. ( )
  Karin7 | Feb 14, 2016 |
3.5 ( )
  Joana_v_v | Feb 9, 2016 |
I came across Monica Dickens first as the author of Follyfoot (pony stories) and One Pair of Hands and One Pair of Feet - very funny 'true' stories of life as a maid and a nurse in smart society between the wars. This is adult fiction, though still a 'girls growing up' story. Mary, the 'lead' character, is a slightly out of kilter character, and the book takes her from adulthood back to childhood, passing the journey that leads her to romance, love and - potentially - loss. It's an enjoyable period story, perceptive and sly.
  otterley | Feb 7, 2016 |
Note: pub. date Feb. 2009
  mfdavis | May 20, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Monica Dickensprimary authorall editionscalculated
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."
Monica Dickens wrote Mariana when she was only twenty-four. (Preface)
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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