International Bestseller: A novel of youthful love and loss and “a powerful evocation of the war years” in England (TheGuardian).
On a hot August evening in 1939, cousins Oliver, Calypso, Polly, Walter, and Sophy spent one last night together, celebrating the end of summer, at the home of their aunt and uncle. Now, forty years later, as the motley cast of characters drive to the funeral of one of their own, they recall how important that night truly was—and all that came after.
From Oliver, whose desperation to prove himself in war ended up as his downfall, to Calypso, whose flirtations landed her in an unlikely marriage with even less likely results, to Sophy, whose secrets from that night haunted her for the rest of her life, each of them recalls the twisted paths of love and betrayal they walked as the country came apart around them under the coming shadow of World War II.
Mary Wesley masterfully interweaves tragedy and humor in this “extraordinarily accomplished and fast-moving” novel, presenting a tale of both the world at large and the dalliances, allegiances, and losses of her expertly crafted characters (Financial Times).
“Mary Wesley’s breakthrough, war-time novel . . . written when she was in her 70s, captures both the violent passions of youth and the losses of age.” —The Guardian
“A distinctive, absorbing novel, told with a true storyteller’s verve, an enchanting ability to involve, touch and surprise the reader.” —Publishers Weekly
“The Camomile Lawn demonstrates a wonderful grasp of the absurd.” —The Washington Post
Praise for Mary Wesley
“Mary Wesley takes you by the hand and you follow wherever she takes you.” —The Observer
“Wesley’s books are a delight. . . .Beautifully crafted . . . Very sexy, very funny.” —The Sunday Times
“Delightful, intelligent entertainment.” —The Sunday Telegraph
“Subtly elegant and witty.” —The Guardian
“Wesley’s novels are distinguished by her sharp eye for human frailties and the ironies of fate, and by her witty and incisive prose. . . .Wesley’s skill with character development and her subtle, amusing dissection of that paramount British preoccupation, family background and breeding, endow this novel with the charm of a comedy of manners and the enduring appeal of a satisfying love story.” —Publishers Weekly on A Sensible Life
“Wise in its insights and witty in its clear-eyed delineation of character and plot. Echoing both Elizabeth Bowen and Anthony Powell, Wesley marries Bowen’s cool assessment of flawed characters with Powell’s fast-paced dance through time.” —Kirkus Reviews on A Sensible Life
“As usual, she made me both laugh out loud and cry.” —The Times (London) on A Sensible Life
“Wesley can be very shrewd about the intricacies of love and friendship, of duty to oneself and to others. And she is never sentimental about any of them. Her readers may become misty-eyed over the novel’s final scenes, but not because she has resorted to cheap emotional tricks.” —The New York Times on A Dubious Legacy
Mary Wesley (1912–2002) was an English novelist. After she published her first novel at age seventy, her books sold more than three million copies, many of them becoming bestsellers. Her beloved books include Jumping the Queue, The Camomile Lawn, Harnessing Peacocks, The Vacillations of Poppy Carew, Not That Sort of Girl, Second Fiddle, A Sensible Life, A Dubious Legacy, An Imaginative Experience, and Part of the Furniture, as well as a memoir, Part of the Scenery.