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Publisher's Summary

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)2014 Audible, Inc.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Ilana
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 09-13-12

Terrific family saga set during WWII

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not so Great Second Time Round

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

A little difficult to say as this was my second time with The Chamomile Lawn. It was, I would say, predictable.

What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?

It was good. She created individual characters and caught their personalities well.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I'm sure I saw the mini-series!

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  • Crime Fiction Groupie
  • 11-28-13

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jan
  • 04-07-13

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?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Alison
  • 09-12-17

Going Back to an Old Favourite

I read this many years ago and I remember really enjoying it. It must have been fairly recently published when I read it first. I didn't enjoy it quite as much this time round. But as it has clearly not changed, that must be me!. Also it reminded me of, but compared slightly unfavourably to the Cazalet Chronicles - all on Audible too. They take themselves far less seriously. But if you like the Cazolet books, I think you'd also like this.

It is a good and easy-going saga of several generations in three families. I like books that move between time frames as this one does. It seems 'tame' compared to a lot of recent popular fiction but at the time of publication in the early 1980s it was a bit racy. I bet Mary would have been good fun in her time!

The narration is perfect. I have listened to a lot of Carole Boyd's narrations and they are all excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Chloe
  • 07-04-13

An upper middle class war

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Camomile Lawn?

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.

What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?

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.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • 01-10-17

A bit of a slog

Didn't care about the characters, so not motivated to listen. The narration was too quick at times, so you have to focus at all times to understand who said or thought what.

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  • Jane Williams
  • 02-07-16

Disappointing

Characters were not very pleasant and not narrated well - the voices were awful . Expected a lot more but was very disappointed .

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  • Andrew
  • 03-05-15

My view

Good. however I can't get the images of the characters in the TV mini series out of my head

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  • Denise Angela Robinson
  • 09-15-14

Salt of the earth

What made the experience of listening to The Camomile Lawn the most enjoyable?

Carole Boyd

Who was your favorite character and why?

Helen, such a strong character

What does Carole Boyd bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

An excellent narrator

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A superb war time story

Any additional comments?

A book everyone should read, especially if war time adventures suit.

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  • Shaun
  • 12-06-13

Lovely to read and even better to listen to

What made the experience of listening to The Camomile Lawn the most enjoyable?

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.

What other book might you compare The Camomile Lawn to, and why?

A Woman's Age by Rachel Billington

What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?

Carole Boyd's performance is excellent. She has created different voices for each character and never lapses or forgets them.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A Different Time, A Different World

  • Overall
  • Painter
  • 04-14-12

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.