Summer 1939 and five cousins gather at the house with the camomile lawn for what, for many of them, will be the last summer of their youth.
©1984 Mary Wesley (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
As Helena Cuthbertson, known as Aunt Helena, and her niece by marriage Polly make their way separately to the funerals of Max Erstweiler, a German Jewish musician who had made England his home since WWII, they both reminisce about their family stories. These involve the pre-war games of a gaggle of cousins, including gorgeous Calypso Cuthbertson, who wanted only to be rich and didn't know how to love, Oliver Anstey who wanted only to have Calypso to himself but alas, was not rich, Sophy, who as the youngest, and living with aunt Helena and uncle Richard, only knew good times when her cousins were about, Walter Cuthbertson, Polly's brother who also loved Calypso, but knew better than to declare himself, and a pair of twins, the local vicar's sons. And of course, uncle Richard, who defines himself by his lost leg, sacrificed during the Great War and Aunt Helena, who only discovered love when she began her extra-marital affair with the ever unfaithful Max Erstweiler, while Richard naturally took up with Max's wife, Monika. The Camomile Lawn of the story is one of the most charming features of Aunt Helena's house in Cornwall where all the cousins share their favourite fond memories. I truly loved this story and once again enjoyed Wesley's wonderful prose, but perhaps having such a large cast of characters made it more difficult for me to keep track of the goings on and form an attachment to any one of the characters. All the same, a terrific family saga mostly set in the England of the Second World War. Carole Boyd's narration makes an already great novel that much more pleasant to listen to.
It was OK. When I read this for the first time in the 1990's I loved it. Coming back to listen I wasn't so sure. Many of the characters just weren't very nice and I didn't much care what happened to them.
A little difficult to say as this was my second time with The Chamomile Lawn. It was, I would say, predictable.
It was good. She created individual characters and caught their personalities well.
I'm sure I saw the mini-series!
"The British at war as only we could be"
I really loved this story. It has been filmed by the BBC but there are some parts that had to be changed or omitted. You wouldn't know that this detracts from the story until, like me you read it yourself or have it read to you. It is warm, humorous, sad and incredibly moving. I am thankful that I was not born until after the war but these characters and their stories made me wish I had been there - and isn't that what a good story is all about?
"As good as I remembered"
First read this after seeing the Channel 4 adaptation in early 90s and loved it. It was a welcome refresher to listen to this audiobook presentation - the narrator was excellent at giving the cast of characters different voices. The characters themselves are likeably dislikeable on occasion, and the story can be quite brittle at times but ultimately is very compelling. Definitely recommended!
"An upper middle class war"
I have recommended this book to my mum already - we both like fiction set in the early twentieth century and had both enjoyed the channel 4 television series, which was very true to the novel.
A conversation between Helena and her sister in law - talking about marriage and relationships, it symbolised the pragmatism that underlined the actions of all the characters in the novel (apart perhaps from Oliver) when faced with the massive disruption of the war.
Carole Boyd's narration had the right accents and tone for the middle class characters. Her narration was unobtrusive and didn't have any jarring moments of misread words or phrases.
The book left me feeling great respect for most of the characters and in particular the author - I felt impelled to go and research her life which sounds more fascinating than those of her fictional creations.
"Lovely to read and even better to listen to"
I read this book many years ago and found Mary Wesley's writing both engaging and enjoyable. To have this book 'read to me' has made it an even more enjoyable experience in that the characters have really come to life and its given me a better understanding of the story and it's descriptions of a time in British history; early 20th Century. The class differences of the time are clearly defined and the central, well heeled, family appreared to have no idea of real hardships happening to ordinary folk. I'm still not sure whether I actually like the family but overall the story is enjoyable.
A Woman's Age by Rachel Billington
Carole Boyd's performance is excellent. She has created different voices for each character and never lapses or forgets them.
A Different Time, A Different World
"A Wondeful Listen"
I am already a fan of Mary Wesley and have read The Camomile Lawn with pleasure. The characters are drawn with care over the length of the narrative - slowly emerging in their complexity and humanity. Carole Boyd's telling of the tale adds to the experience. She is able to give each player a distinctive voice and maintains this throughout. The result is a warm and sympathetic interpretation which misses none of the nuanced subtlety of the wriiten word. I loved it.
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