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Making Conversation by Christine Longford
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Making Conversation (original 1931; edition 2009)

by Christine Longford (Author)

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1064170,642 (3.15)9
Member:Grier
Title:Making Conversation
Authors:Christine Longford (Author)
Info:Persephone Books Ltd (2009), 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Making Conversation by Christine Longford (1931)

  1. 00
    The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson (nessreader)
    nessreader: both about terrible girls' schools designed to spit out nice conventional girls of a posh but unchallenging nature
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(25 December 2011 – from Gill)

This is one of those delicious books that doesn’t have a plot as such – OK, our heroine progresses through her youth, but it’s more a collection of exquisitely observed scenes and – yes – conversations than a plot-based narrative. Martha, our heroine, never quite fits in or understands the sub-texts (or, often, texts) she encounters. There is a glorious acceptance of all the different people who one might just about encounter in life – from spinsters and vicars to revolutionaries, Japanese gentlemen and slightly odd boys … all almost equally bewildering. A clear eye and a deadpan voice reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor or Barbara Pym make this a delight to read. ( )
  LyzzyBee | May 31, 2012 |
I’ve wanted to read this ever since Persephone decided to reprint this forgotten classic. Our main character is Martha Freke, a socially awkward girl who talks either far to much or not enough. She actually sounds a lot like me, so I thought I’d really enjoy reading this book. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I thought it would, but I did like it.

Martha is a little less socially awkward as I thought she would be; she’s not the type of person who says things at inopportune moments. She’s actually quite eloquent when she does talk. She is supposed to be socially awkward, but I found myself liking her for her strength of character. She is intelligent and at times very funny in her naiveté.

The novel chronicles Martha’s growth from childhood up through her time at Oxford and into adulthood. Martha’s coming of age coincides with WWI and the 1920s, but the time period takes a back seat to Martha’s story. The tone of the book tends to be very dry at times, which is why the narrative is sometimes hard to follow. I loved especially Martha’s mother, who runs a boarding house with various lodgers who add a spot of color to the story. Sill, I enjoyed watching Martha’s progression through school, university, and adulthood. This is not my favorite Persephone reprint, but it’s a novel that’s a good addition to the canon. ( )
2 vote Kasthu | Dec 5, 2010 |
Making Conversation is an immensly readable novel about a young girl Matha Freke, growing up, during and just after the first world war. To start with she lives with her mother and thier often slightly eccentric collection of paying guests. Later Martha goes to Oxford to study classics, where she meets a host of different people both male and female. Throughout the novel, Martha struggles with the art of conversation, she is often unsure of herself, and feels that hollow awkwardness that we have all felt from time to time, especially during those early fledgling years when we so desperatly want to be taken seriously. Written with a deceptively light touch, Making Conversation has both humor and depth, and unsurprisingly in a novel about conversation, the dialogue is excellent. ( )
2 vote Heaven-Ali | Jun 19, 2010 |
Martha is an intelligent young girl who does well (she receives a scholarship to Oxford without having attended the best school). Her main problem is social: she can’t seem to make conversation as is expected of young women as part of pleasantries and general manners...
http://leaningtowardthesun.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/reads-making-conversation-ch... ( )
  noodlejet22 | Aug 20, 2009 |
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"Here is a little present for you, Ellen," said Martha Freke. "We got it on the pier."
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"Go away," said Violet Harris, "you don't know about adultery."
"I do."
"You don't."
"You said you didn't this morning."
"You didn't say you did."
"Go away, anyway."
That evening Martha went into the drawing-room to say goodnight to Miss Pilkington, who asked her how she had enjoyed school.
"Not very much today, thank you."
"Why not, dear?"
"Miss Spencer pulled my hair, and said I had committed adultery."
"Nonsense, dear, you must have misunderstood her."
"I didn't."
"Don't contradict, dear," said her mother.
Martha enjoyed the luxury of crying in bed. It seemed that conversation was desirable, but conversation often meant contradiction."
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