Monday, May 10, 2010
Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary
Ruby Ferguson’s ‘Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary’ is a book I’ve tried to read once before, and which didn’t really grab me at the time. This reading week coupled with Paperback Reader’s enthusiasm for this title made me pick it up again and I took it to London with me to read on the train. I feel a little guilty about admitting that it’s still not really a book for me, but I do feel happier about saying it now I’ve finished it. I’ve had a look at a couple of very positive reviews this afternoon, and whilst they haven’t changed my mind they have confirmed a feeling that this would be a terrific book for a reading group because I do feel it’s one to polarise opinion. I’m also pleased to be able to link to fans of the book because I feel it leaves me free to be a bit negative (but not I hope too negative).
Whilst trying not to give too much away this is the story of The Lady Rose as related by an old family retainer to three chance tourists on a sunny afternoon in the 1930’s. Lady Rose is a considerable heiress, a favourite of Queen Victoria, imaginative and passionate and seemingly blessed by every good fairy. (SPOILERS) Eventually she marries, her husband is a ruthlessly repressed man, and despite three children she adores it’s not a terribly happy marriage. At this point I thought I knew what would happen, I thought there would be divorce (because sometimes I can’t resist reading the end of a book before I’ve finished, and yes I do know this makes me a terrible person, but it also revealed that something big was on the way). Anyway it wasn’t divorce, but suffice it to say that the husband is no longer an issue.
So then at the point when it all feels like it should work out it all sort of goes wrong again, except by this point it’s almost the end of the book, and it all happens quite quickly and has left me a bit non plussed. I suspect I would have loved this book when I had a crush on the Scarlet Pimpernel, and was reading Kidnapped, thinking that Bonnie Prince Charlie was a romantic hero, but now I think of him as a vicious alcoholic, bad general, and all round bad egg. For Lady Rose he’s a hero. There was too much of the fairy tale about this book for me, I couldn’t go along with it, and kept doubting the veracity of little things within the plot.