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Our Spoons Came from Woolworths (1950)

by Barbara Comyns

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7362931,412 (3.87)177
"I told Helen my story and she went home and cried" begins Our Spoons Came from Woolworths. But Barbara Comyns's beguiling novel is far from maudlin, despite the ostensibly harrowing ordeals its heroine endures. Sophia is twenty-one when she marries fellow artist Charles, and she seems to have nearly as much affection for her pet newt as she does for her husband. Her housekeeping knowledge is lacking (everything she cooks tastes of soap) and she attributes her morning sickness to a bad batch of strawberries. England is in the middle of the Great Depression, and in any case, the money Sophia earns at her occasional modeling gigs are not enough to make up for her husband's lack of interest in keeping the heat on. Predictably, the marriage begins to falter; not so predictably, Sophia's optimistic guilelessness is the very thing responsible for turning her life around"--… (more)
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» See also 177 mentions

English (28)  Spanish (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Rather like being read to by a four year old. The characters were flat, and I could not bring myself to care about what happened to them, no matter how hard I tried. At least it is behind me. ( )
  kentm241 | Jul 22, 2024 |
had to return to Library; less because it was due than subject matter not possible for me to read at this moment - Emily Gould's introduction incisively informative - the courage it took for these women to live their lives - without the support of their family and community - how did they do it?
  Overgaard | May 24, 2024 |
This writer, a Brit, is a new one for me, as is the case with many of us as our new feminist awareness is putting many literary women back in the forefront of a domain that previously ignored them. Our primary character herein, one Sophia, is a naive but apparently attractive young woman (I say this as she is constantly being 'rescued' by reprobates) who finds herself enmeshed in a horrific mariage, terrible in-laws and a laggard husband (aren't they all -- and let's not forget the 'manolescent' boyfriends of today, a plague upon the land!), a pregnancy and delivery from hell (thirties style!), and the class-ridden society of class conscious pre-war Britain. I intend to read more works from B Comyns, a true luminary! ( )
  larryking1 | Nov 2, 2019 |
In this mostly depressing novel, a young woman recounts her early adulthood. She married way too young and had a baby right away, lived in poverty, gets ill, husband is unsupportive and leaves her, etc. It was sort of like a first person Hardy novel set in the mid-1900s.

I liked it, but not as much as the other Comyns novel I've read (The Vet's Daughter). I mainly liked the voice of the narrator in this one. She is very straightforward and matter of fact about all the terrible things happening to her. I actually found it sort of funny at times. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 4, 2019 |
Interesting. Author Barbara Comyns writes a semi-autobiographical novel set in the 1930s (she cautions that nothing in the book is true except a few chapters; I won’t mention what those are about to avoid spoilers). The protagonist, Sophia, marries in haste and repents at leisure; she’s breathtakingly naïve, and her husband is a callous jerk – but can be slightly forgiven because he’s also breathtakingly naïve. The couple have no idea of how to support themselves, and unfortunately don’t seem to realize how reproduction works (Sophia volunteers to the reader that she thought if you firmly believed you wouldn’t get pregnant, you wouldn’t. This turns out not to be the case). The main charm of the book is the writing style; simple declarative sentences narrating their descent into genteel poverty – and continuing into pretty ungenteel poverty – somehow turns the commonplace into grand tragedy. Still, Sophia manages to muddle through being unable to afford clothes and furniture and heat and food and medical care and ends up reminding the reader that simple joys – enough to eat, a new pair of shoes, a pet – are the best. ( )
2 vote setnahkt | Mar 21, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Comyns, Barbaraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brayfield, CeliaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, EmilyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holden, UrsulaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Farrell, MaggieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spencer, StanleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Barbara Comyns wrote first as a child, to amuse herself, her vibrant and curious imagination overflowing the edges of reality.
I told Helen my story and she went home and cried.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"I told Helen my story and she went home and cried" begins Our Spoons Came from Woolworths. But Barbara Comyns's beguiling novel is far from maudlin, despite the ostensibly harrowing ordeals its heroine endures. Sophia is twenty-one when she marries fellow artist Charles, and she seems to have nearly as much affection for her pet newt as she does for her husband. Her housekeeping knowledge is lacking (everything she cooks tastes of soap) and she attributes her morning sickness to a bad batch of strawberries. England is in the middle of the Great Depression, and in any case, the money Sophia earns at her occasional modeling gigs are not enough to make up for her husband's lack of interest in keeping the heat on. Predictably, the marriage begins to falter; not so predictably, Sophia's optimistic guilelessness is the very thing responsible for turning her life around"--

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"Eventually, we bought a mattress and were able to tuck the clothes in the and the sheets were washed and didn't smell and we became proper married people."  Sophia is twenty-one years old, she carries a newt around in her pocket and marries - in haste - a young artist called Charles.  Swept into bohemian London of the thirties, Sophia is ill-equipped to cope: poverty, babies (however much loved) - and her husband - conspire to torment her.  Hoping to add some spice to her life, Sophie takes up with the dismal, aging art critic, Peregrine and learns to repent her marriage - and affair - at leisure.  Repentance brings an abrupt end to a life of unpaid bills, unsold pictures and unwashed crockery, plus the hope of joys in store:  this novel has a very happy ending...  Barbara Comyns was born at Bidford-on-Avon and now lives in Richmond, Surrey.  The author of eight wonderfully eccentric novels, this, her second, first published 1950, takes a tragic-comic look at artistic life in London before the Second World War through the child-like eyes of the endearing, ebullient Sophia.  (From the back cover of Virago Press's edition published in 1983.  Barbara Comyns died in 1992.)
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