Emmeline is Persephone book number 123, reissued by Persephone in 2017, it’s an American historical novel first published in 1980, by the author of Looking for Mr Goodbar. I haven’t read that earlier novel, which according to Lucy Ellmann in her afterword to this edition is not nearly so well written as Emmeline, calling it a sub-porn peep show. Yet it is that novel which made the author’s name. This novel Ellmann claims – and I absolutely agree – is a howl against the patriarchy. It is also, devastatingly, largely a true story, based on the life of Emeline Bachelder Gurney.

Immediately compelling, Emmeline spans a period of about sixty years, though the majority of the story takes place in the 1840s and 50s. The reader’s anger for Emmeline builds gradually, Judith Rossner reveals the injustices and cruelties that existed for women and girls in a society that punished and judged those who had fallen foul of men’s selfish seductions. Emmeline is punished throughout her life for the crime of another, she hadn’t understood what danger she might be in, and later in life she makes a mistake that no one could possibly have foreseen. The unforgiving nature of the people close to her and the wider community is heart-breaking. It is an unforgettable story.

In 1839, Emmeline Mosher left her home in Fayette, Maine to go and work in the cotton mills of Lowell, Massachusetts – she was thirteen years old. Driven away from the only home she has known by her aunt and uncle on their way home after a visit. It was common in these days for girls of poor families to be sent out to work, they sent money home and became the saviours of their families. Life was difficult for the Mosher family; Emmeline was the eldest of nine children, and there was practically nothing to eat. As her aunt leaves her in Lowell, Emmeline is young, vulnerable, lonely and frightened, she also has the misfortune to be noticeably pretty.

As soon as Emmeline arrives in Lowell, she is housed in one of the many boarding houses that exist for the mill girls to live in. Emmeline’s boarding house is run by Mrs Bass. Everything is new and strange, and Emmeline has little knowledge of the world.

“She was virtually ill with loneliness and cold and could eat very little at each meal. Mrs Bass asked if she was troubled, but she denied it. She had noticed that to be one of Mrs Bass’s favourites was to incur a certain amount of teasing from the other girls, and she wanted desperately to please them.”

The work in the mills is exhausting, the hours are terribly long and the atmosphere of the weaving room choking, though it is remarkable what these girls quickly get used to. Emmeline fails to make any real friends among the other girls in the boarding house – though at first Mrs Bass makes something of a favourite of her. When Mrs Bass warns Emmeline about Mr Maguire the manager of the weaving room where she is placed – Emmeline has no idea what the danger might be – the reader of course knows instantly and knows to fear for Emmeline.

“‘Listen to me Emmeline…’ she uttered the name in the way in which only one other person had ever pronounced it.

‘You must keep away from Mr Maguire. He’s dangerous.’

‘Dangerous? She was awake now. ‘I don’t understand.’

‘You must take my word for it,’ she said ‘He hurts girls like you. A girl was turned off the corporation on his account. A girl who looked … The first time I saw you I thought of her.’

‘What must I do?’ Emmeline asked, frightened in spite of herself.”

However, Emmeline is alone, she misses her mother and home fiercely she has no friends to confide in and no understanding at all of what a certain kind of man might want with her. Mr Maguire is kind to her, takes an interest in her – brings her a shawl from his wife as the weather gets colder, gets his wife to invite her for Christmas day tea – today, of course we would call it grooming, its insidious.

“He smiled. ‘Now I have you in a cage. And whenever I want you, I’ll take you out, and when I’ve done with you, I’ll set you back in.”

It’s an age old story – and it’s Mrs Bass who realises what has happened to Emmeline – and now she is anything but sympathetic. Emmeline’s a child of course, but not viewed as such by anyone. It’s arranged for Emmeline to take refuge with her aunt – the rest of her family aren’t to know about ‘her shame’. Money is extracted from Mr Maguire so that Emmeline can continue to send it back to her family. Her aunt arranges everything, Emmeline is powerless.

Her experiences in Lowell set the course of the rest of her life. When she finally does return to Fayette, she is hiding a secret – one she is desperate to share with her beloved mother but finds she can’t. Had Emmeline told her mother what had happened perhaps things would have been different – perhaps not. Emmeline is relieved to be home – and is happy, staying home quietly, looking after her parents, watching her siblings grow up, get married and begin to have children. Yet the biggest tragedy and greatest test is still to come – Emmeline will in time become a victim of the judgement of those around her, punished and ostracised for the abuse done to her.

I don’t want to give away any more spoilers in this review. Emmeline is a wonderful novel – just don’t expect a happy ending. Rossner recreates the suffocating world of the cotton mills and the spiteful, gossipy boarding houses filled with adolescent girls brilliantly. It is both Emmeline the lonely, vulnerable girl and Emmeline the older woman, alone and ostracised that I will remember for a long time.

I haven’t done #20booksofsummer for the last couple of years, because I discovered I am not very good at sticking to a prescribed list that I have made myself. I soon begin to get distracted. The challenge runs from 3rd June to 3rd of September and is hosted again by Cathy at 746books

I should easily manage more than 20 books in that time, so I have made it a bit harder for myself by putting in some big books. I have stopped caring about how many books I am reading – I set a target in January on Goodreads – because I can – and the rest of the year have to put up with it telling me I am behind. I’ve decided I don’t care. Sometimes it’s glorious spending an entire week lost in one book, rather than racing through three.

So, for me #20booksofsummer is all about getting some of those books off the tbr bookcase – making some space (my tbr has crept onto the floor – that’s always a bad sign) and get some of those hardbacks and fatter books and review copies read. I have also included books for LT’s All Virago/All August month (Persephone are included) and a couple for #Womenintranslation month.

So, here’s the pile from top down:

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – my next read in fact as it’s been chosen by my book group.

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore – for my women’s prize project which I started a while ago and have read absolutely nothing for.

The Harsh Voice by Rebecca West – four novellas.

The Reading Party by Fenella Gentleman – a review copy

Henry by Elizabeth Eliot

Leaven of Malice by Robertson Davies – for Lori’s Robertson Davies reading week (in July I think).

Murder in the Mill Race by E.C.R Lorac – review copy

Life in Translation by Anthony Ferner – review copy

The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim

Full House by Molly Keane one of my favourite vmc authors

Tangerine by Christine Mangan one of those impulse buys

Farewell, my Orange by Iwaki Kei – review copy

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe

Despised and Rejected by Rose Allatini

Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson

National Provincial by Lettice Cooper

The Stranger from the Sea by Paul Binding – review copy

Spring by Ali Smith –

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje – not sure why I haven’t read this yet.

Girl, woman, other by Bernardine Evaristo another impulse buy, never read this author before, heard such good things.

I am hoping I will have room for reading a few not on the pile – some more in translation perhaps, or more vmcs and review books. I may also swap some titles if I feel I am getting bogged down.

Have a wonderful summer of reading everyone, whether you are joining in with #20booksofsummer or not.

May in review

May has been a lovely reading month for me. Of course, #DDMreadingweek was a particular highlight – and it looks like I will be doing it again next year.

I’ve read nine books during May, and not a bad one among them. So now it’s June – and I am looking forward to summer – with a couple of seaside breaks booked, and maybe a bit more reading time.

I began May reading The Psychology of Time-Travel by Kate Macarenhas for my book group. A book combining women scientists, psychology and time travel. Everyone in our book group loved it.

A Touch of Mistletoe by Barbara Comyns was a pure delight, I have loved everything I have read by her. This book took some tracking down, so I needed it to be brilliant – and it was. There’s darkness here of course, Comyns’ style is such that she shields us from the true misery that lies beneath.

The Breaking Point Stories by Daphne Du Maurier – was my first read for the reading week, for me it was more like ten or twelve days though as I started early and finished late. These eight suspenseful stories cross the boundaries of reality several times, depicting people as they reach their breaking point. The stories take us from Devon, to London to Venice To Hollywood and the Greek mountains. Again, Du Maurier showing us what a wonderfully versatile storyteller she was.

The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier – my second read for DDM week and my second book (perhaps ever, never mind during this month) featuring time travel. It will almost certainly be on my books of the year list – my goodness I loved it. Such wonderfully inventive, compelling storytelling.

Well I just couldn’t get enough, so I then moved on to Mary Anne by Daphne Du Maurier a biographical novel about Mary Anne Clarke; DDM’s great-great grandmother – who was an extraordinary character.

Blitz Writing by Inez Holden comprises a novella; Night Shift and a memoir; It was Different at the Time. Together they provide a portrait of a city under daily bombardment, showing the lives of ordinary working people in factories and hospitals.

Mrs Tim Carries On by D.E Stevenson was a lovely bit of 40s escapism – the second book in the series that started with Mrs Tim of the Regiment. This sequel was published with a view to bringing some light relief to Stevenson’s fans living under wartime strictures – but despite that Stevenson never completely shies away from the realities of wartime life.

Jessie at Dwell in Possibility is again hosting the Persephone readathon (May 31st – June 9th) and I again started early and have somehow finished two very different books already. Emmeline by Judith Rossner was the first of them, a little under 400 pages, I had thought it was bigger and would take longer to read. I absolutely flew through it. Emmeline had been on my tbr for ages – and somehow reviews of it had passed me by, and I didn’t know anything about it. Set in the American Midwest in the 1840s/50s it is not a happy story.

Maman, What are we Called Now? By Jacqueline Mesnil-Amar is the wartime diary of the last days of the German occupation of Paris. It’s extraordinarily poignant, endlessly quotable with so much of it resonating with me – it’s a stark reminder – should we need it, of what can happen when extremism takes hold.

I have a few plans for June – I really want to get to grips with some review books I have been sent – I mentioned that in a recent post. Since then I have ticked two off the list. Late last night I started Death in Captivity a WW2 mystery by Michael Gilbert sent to me by BLCC which I have seen some great reviews for. Then, I will have to read my book group choice (cutting it fine as ever) Transcription by Kate Atkinson, it was my suggestion, and now I am nervous about it. My feminist book group were all quite excited at the prospect of reading it, we all said women spies – yay! Since then I have read a couple of reviews in which the readers concerned were rather underwhelmed. I probably shouldn’t have read the reviews. Oh well, time will tell, perhaps I will love it. I have been itching to read Spring by Ali Smith since I bought at Easter, I may find time this month. The LT ‘reading the 1940s’ project continues, and June is a wildcard month – no particular theme – so as I have lots that could easily fit in, I hope to read at least one book.

What brilliant things did you read in May? As always, I would love to know what you’re planning to read in June.

With thanks to the publisher for the review copy

I have had this book quite a while – as it’s a review copy, I feel a bit guilty about that – but when it arrived, I hadn’t read the first book in this series. So, I read Mrs Tim of the Regiment, and then promptly forgot about this one. 

I read Mrs Tim Carries On as part of the ongoing LT ‘reading the 1940s’ project – it doesn’t really fit in with this month’s theme (food – I mean people eat, but I can’t claim it as an overarching theme) – but will slot happily into several of the other months.

Mrs Tim of the Regiment was first published in 1932 – and was followed by many other novels and the increasing popularity of their creator – nine years later this sequel to Mrs Tim appeared. Despite that nine year gap – the second book picks up just a few months after Mrs Tim of the Regiment ended. This timeline works perfectly well as from what I can remember there is nothing in Mrs Tim of the Regiment that particularly dates it to the early 1930s. What remains the same is a delicious warmth that envelops the reader immediately. D.E Stevenson brought her characters back in this delightful sequel apparently to lift wartime spirits – I can only think that it would have done that perfectly.

“There is so much War News in News Bulletins, in Newspapers, and so much talk about the war that I do not intend to write about it in my diary. My diary is an escape from the war…though it is almost impossible to escape from the anxieties which it brings.”

Our narrator is again Hester Christie, the wife of Major Tim Christie – mother to Bryan and Betty. Written in a series of diary entries, in the same bright, warm chatty style that so endeared Hester Christie to readers of that earlier book. While Major Christie is away serving in France with the regiment, Hester is keeping the home fires burning in the small Scottish town of Donford where the regiment are now stationed. Her friend Grace is expecting a happy event any day and has somehow managed to make a deadly enemy of Mrs Benson, the colonel’s wife.

Over the course of this novel we see Hester try to suppress the natural exuberance of her delightful Betty when in polite company, cope with her son’s misspelt letters, holiday escapades and the lonely Polish soldier he adopts. When not ministering to the children, Hester spends her time volunteering at the comforts depot, sorting the piles of items which have been donated for the comfort of the men serving abroad. We witness some of the tensions that always seem to exist between people in any organisation of this type – not unlike the ladies who argue over the tea urn in Barbara Pym books.

While Tim is away in France, Tony Morley is again a frequent visitor – he is now a colonel – itching for active service and trying to knock his battalion into shape. It is Tony, who alerts Hester to the worrying situation in France (in the days before Dunkirk) and with no news from Tim for several weeks, Hester knows the fear that was experienced by so many families in these days.

“Sometimes I feel hopeful – I feel it is impossible that anything could happen to Tim without my knowing it in my very bones – and sometimes I am crushed with despair. Oh Tim, where are you? You can’t have gone away and left me here in this horrible, terrifying world alone!”

Hester’s faithful Annie gets married – and while she is away on honeymoon a peculiar replacement generally called ‘not Annie’ by Hester in her diary. Hester entertains a house guest, Pinkie, a blonde Amazonian type of head turner who is delightfully guileless and popular with just about everyone. Pinkie stays far longer than originally intended and is soon very much a part of the family. Dear Mrs Loudon, who we met in the first book turns up to visit her son Guthrie in a near by hospital, Hester makes a flying visit to London to see her brother on embarkation leave and experiences a proper air raid.

I enjoyed this book much more than the first book – which I liked a lot, but thought was a little bit too long, and has two sections which are noticeably different in tone. This book is a charming escape, but never completely shies away from the realities of war, it is also more of a cohesive whole. I have already bought the next two Mrs Tim books (soon after being sent this one, I think I decided I needed to get them in case they ran out or something) so lots more of Hester Christie to enjoy.

With thanks to Handheld Press for the review copy

The two texts contained in Blitz Writing; Night Shift and It was Different at the Time, are back in print after many years thanks to Handheld Press. First published in 1941 and 1943 respectively, they provide an extraordinary portrait of the war years in Britain. Ordinary people, in factories and hospitals, in the streets and rooming houses of a Britain living through extraordinary times. The first text; Night Shift is a novella – running to 85 pages. The second, later text, a memoir beginning in 1938, was originally intended to be part of a joint project with George Orwell. Orwell in the end was unable to contribute, so instead we are left with Inez Holden’s intimate and accessible account of the period just before the war and the first two years of a conflict that had yet to end when the book was first published.

Inez Holden might not be a familiar name to us today – however in her day she was a well known writer of novels and short stories. According to Kristin Bluemel in her introduction to this edition, Holden was known as much for her flamboyant lifestyle and friendship with notable figures like Anthony Powell, HG Wells, Evelyn Waugh, and George Orwell, as she was for her literary output. However, she published seven novels, two story collections and a wartime diary.

Night Shift is a novella about factory workers. Holden’s largely working-class characters have been conscripted into Braille’s; a London factory, making camera parts for reconnaissance aeroplanes. An unnamed narrator introduces us to the night shift workers and the world they inhabit. Here is the noise of the factory machinery, a constant dull thump, distantly in the background the sound of air raids going on above them. A new girl has recently started at the factory, soon she is nicknamed Feather – Sid; one of the men in white coats is second in charge, he is frequently called upon to assist with problems with the machinery. Feather is soon an established member of the team; indulging in gossip and the inane chatter of workers brought together for long hours of tedious routine.

“At one minute to one most of the workers had gathered round the notice board to clock out for the night meal. They stood for a moment like a group waiting to be photographed. Just before the minute hand jerked up to the appointed hour they all reached out towards the rack holding their hour cards on which their names and numbers were written. One by one they dropped the cards into the clocking-in mouth, knocked in the knob, like a blow to the front teeth, and taking out the cards put them back into the rack.”

Conversations always run along similar lines, the hope of more money – whether ‘he’ is overhead that night – whether the second part of the night – after the hour long meal break, provided by Ma in the canteen has been eaten – goes faster or not. The voices are wonderful, realistic and full of humour and pathos. This is a world rarely portrayed in fiction – and I loved being part of it.

The second text is Holden’s memoir of the years 1938-1941 begins around the time of the Munich agreement – talk of war is everywhere, and Inez Holden always knew it would come.

“Personally I have never doubted during these last years that we should be at war very soon, but now that seems as if it will break out within a few days I find a certain reluctance to accept something which I already knew must happen. I find the same attitude in several of my friends. They would be appalled at the possibility of a second sell-out – as at the time of Munich – but there is just this difficulty of making the mental jump from even phoney-peace to the start of slaughter near us.”

In this memoir Holden gives us her own personal perspective of the war and the days leading up to it. The entries depict Holden’s wartime service in hospitals and at a government training centre, as a BBC broadcaster, a fire watcher and guest at a BBC centre called ‘Hogsnorton’. 

Holden recounts stories of patients she came across in the hospital – like the man, who was quite the celebrity on the ward for the number of times he had ‘gone down’ (to the operating theatre). Additionally, Holden shows us the normality of life going on away from the busy hospital wards, the streets full of people despite the threat of raids, cinemas showing slapstick comedy, while elsewhere the stretcher bearers and rescue workers carry out their work, courageously enduring long hours, bombardment and danger as they assist the people of a city in wartime.

“There were air raids every night now. They start about seven o’clock. We know all the sounds very well. A very familiar sound is a particular kind of crackling after the fall of incendiary bombs. We go out then and put the fires out with stirrup pumps and sand.”

In these two texts Inez Holden shows the London under bombardment that she herself was living through at the time. There is some overlap in time with the two texts, together they examine a city and its people during the blitz, beautifully written, vivid and compelling.

Blitz Writing was another read for the Librarything ‘reading the 1940s’ project – though it fitted more into last month’s theme of work than this month’s food theme.

Tales from the tbr

I’m having quite a slow reading week after all the excitement of Daphne Du Maurier reading week. However, I am looking forward to some extra reading time next week over half term.

I am not a blogger who accepts that many books for review – but despite not getting the piles some people seem to – I have rather let them pile up. Some I really have had a while – (another reason I don’t take on many is because I am so useless at reading them in good time). So, I am trying to get on top of those I have had ages – and those that have recently come in.

I am currently coming to the end of a lovely book (reissued next week) that I received for review, from Handheld Press called Blitz Writing by Inez Holden – a novella Night Shift and a memoir It was Different at the Time. Originally published in 1941 and 1943 respectively, they are both wonderful portraits of life in World War two. I know lots of regular readers love WW2 texts as much as I do – so I am looking forward to telling you all about it next week in my review.

Some other books that have sent to me for review have come into my house recently, and in case I don’t read them as quickly as they deserve to be read – I will tell you about them now. I’m always so grateful for the books I receive, I just need to get down to them. It’s all the other books I have waiting to read that’s the problem of course.

Life in Translation by Anthony Ferner – a novel by a lovely, literary writer I have been lucky enough to read before. Published by Holland Park Press – I believe that it came out last week. This novel describes the ups and downs of the life of a translator who dreams of achieving literary fame.

Noel Streatfeild’s Holiday Stories – which will be a must for all Streatfeild fans. I must admit I am not usually one to read children’s stories – though I love reading them to children. However, the blurb of this one assures us that this collection will delight Streatfeild fans of all ages – so I shall certainly be dipping in. Perhaps it’s a book adults will love to read to children, parents and grandparents fighting over whose turn it is to read them. I love Noel Streatfeild’s adult books – and this collection, illustrated by Peter Bailey – look very tempting. The cover art does make it look more like a children’s collection – but I don’t suppose it matters. Originally these stories were written for annuals and magazines between the 1930s and 70s. This gorgeous collection is published by Virago Modern Classics on the 20th June.

The Reading Party by Fenella Gentleman has recently come out in paperback – and I have a copy that I am looking forward to reading. It concerns a reading party of an Oxford college in the 1970s.

The Stranger by the Sea by Paul Binding has just arrived today. A dramatic re-imagining of characters from Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea, it is set in the late nineteenth century on the Kent coast.

So, I aim to do better with the books I get sent by publishers and authors – only I shall probably just carry on being a bit rubbish about them. Which of these would you read next?

It’s a bank holiday here in the UK this weekend – so let’s hope the sun shines and we all get some lovely, relaxing reading time.

My final post (I promise) for #DDMreadingweek – two days late as well. I got rather carried away with my reading, starting Mary Anne which at 385 pages I knew full well I wouldn’t finish in time. In Mary Anne, Du Maurier has introduced us to an incredible character – and one who came straight from life.

Mary Anne Clarke (nee Thompson) was Daphne Du Maurier’s great great grandmother a woman whose ambition, and love of money and power directed her whole life. This biographical novel is based on the life of the woman who scandalised early nineteenth century London, taking us from Bowling Inn Alley where she was born and raised to the very seat of power.

In this novel Daphne Du Maurier explores the differences in power between men and women – it’s a world of contradictions (what’s changed?) where men can get away with almost anything, and women are vulnerable and judged. In her introduction to this edition Lisa Hilton describes Mary Anne as Du Maurier’s most feminist novel.

Living in Bowling Inn Alley with her mother, siblings and step-father Mary Anne grew up without the benefit of a formal education – she taught herself to read and write.

“Words fascinated her, the shape of the curling letters, how some, by repeating themselves more often, had importance. They had difference of sex too. The a’s the e’s and u’s were women; the hard g’s, the b’s and q’s were all men, and seemed to depend on the others.”

By the age of thirteen she could correct copy for her sick stepfather; a printer in the world of the pamphleteers – pouring out scandal and criticism of the government to anyone with the pennies to purchase the sheets. A benefactor – whose intentions are anything but honourable – steps forward and offers to send Mary Anne away to school. Here she will learn more than mere lessons – she begins to throw off her cockney origins, perfecting her natural poise and charm that she will make such good use of in the years ahead. She also learns quickly about the real differences between men and women.

“Injustice – there was always injustice between men and women. Men made the laws to suit themselves. Men did as they pleased, and women suffered for it. There was only one way to beat them, and that was to match your wits against theirs and come out the winner.”

She marries somewhat hastily at just sixteen to a young man who had lodged for a while in her mother’s house – a young man with a wealthy father – who claimed to have good prospects. Joseph Clarke is feckless and a drinker – cut off by his father – he and his young wife end up living on the sympathies of his brother. A nice house, in a nice area – but Mary Anne wants better – she always wants better – for herself and for the children who soon come along.

Having separated herself from Joseph, Mary Anne enters into the world of the society courtesan. She has a very nice house rent free – where her mother and children live alongside her – and late in the evening, her gentlemen come to call. By the early 1800s Mary Anne’s particular charms have come to the attention of HRH The Duke of York, and he sets her up as his mistress – and the household have to move again – to an even better house. The Duke likes to spend time in a proper home – where he can hear the children running around on the floors above him – and he’s used to a certain standard of living.

Unfortunately, the Duke is not very worldly in matters of money – or so he claims – and so the allowance he gives to Mary Anne for the upkeep of his second home is nothing like enough. In the early days Mary Anne is granted credit everywhere – everyone knows who she is, and under whose protection she exists – but in time the bills come due – and Mary Anne is desperate for money. Everywhere are men who offer advice – making suggestions, tempting Mary Anne with promises of large sums of money.

The Duke of York is the Commander in Chief of the British army – and there are lots of military men keen to get promotions or exchanges – and other men keen to take advantage of Mary Anne’s influence with the Duke. Mary Anne enters into the thriving and very lucrative trade of army commissions.

All good things they say come to an end – and in time the inevitable happens, and Mary Anne is out of favour. Without the protection of the Duke, Mary Anne is vulnerable – but never easily shaken – resourceful and determined – wanting always to protect her younger brother Charley and her three children. The scandal of the trade in commissions ricochets through London, and Mary Anne is obliged to testify in the House of Commons – a woman in a world of men she is often heard to say afterwards. Her testimony leads to the resignation of the Duke as Commander in Chief.

“Dozing, she thought in retrospect how her life had been building up towards this moment, year in, year out, almost from alley days. That early training, as a cockney child, sharpened her wit and made her seize her chances: the schooling at Ham put on a pseudo-polish: marriage with Joseph got the worst over young—so much so, that nothing a man could do, now or in the future, would break her heart. As to the rest… all lovers made some mark. She knew how to absorb the benefit and pass it on, be grateful for the teaching. What she had learned from men, not only lovers, was to the purpose in a man-made world. Therefore, become their equal. Play their game, and add to the game the sense of intuition.” 

Mary Anne continues to chase the life she once had with the Duke – she takes up her pen once more, as she once did back in Bowling Inn Alley. Her writing is destined to take her to court rooms, a prison cell and finally exile in France. Throughout it all, Mary Anne is a woman who it is hard to bet against. She’s a shoulders back, head up kind of woman – no matter what life throws at her – she greets it with her own inimitable poise.

Mary Anne is another compelling story from Daphne Du Maurier – a warts and all portrait of a larger than life character. Du Maurier faithfully recreates the atmosphere of Regency London, as ever her sense of place and period is spot on.