Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann (1927)

Earlier this month I read a novel by a writer, Rosamond  Lehmann,  quite famous in her day but perhaps faded a bit away now, An Invitation to the Waltz.  I loved this elegant, insightful book, especially for the long middle section devoted to a waltz in a country town in England.  I enjoy reading biographies of writers and very much like and do highly recommend Rosamond Lehmann A Life by Selina Hastings.  I was kindly given a review copy of her first novel, Dusty Answers just as I was An Invitation to the Waltz, her second work, by Open Media Publishing, a very dynamic company.

          Rosamond Lehmann (1901 to 1990, England)

Dusty Answers is the story the changing over the years relationships of Judith Earle and her cousins.  We first meet Judith, living with her affluent parents in a big house on the Thames River, when she discovers her six cousins are moving into the house next door, vacant for a long time.  We see the development of adolescent romances, Lehmann is a very acute depictor of the emotions and analytic processes of young women.  ( I guess as the father of daughters 17, 20, and 22 I am preinclined to notice such matters.)   She presents brilliantly the intense sometimes minutely  observed nuances in their thought processes. 

The cousins only stay at the house during vacations so we see emotional and physical changes impacting their relationships.  

I enjoyed this book very much.  My favorite section was devoted to Judith's early days at Cambridge, at a time when women were just starting to be allowed to attend.  We feel Judith's initial awkwardness in the opening days of school, where she is for the first time on her own, where everyone seems to already have a circle of friends but her. Even in the women's housing their are economic class distinctions, some students have beautifully furnished rooms, others Spartan.  It is lots of fun to see Judith get used to college life.   There are a lot of engaging gossiping conversations I enjoyed sitting in on.

In a very daring for 1927 treatment, we see Judith fall in love with a beautiful fellow student, Jennifer.  Relationships between women in this age bracket can be very intense without being sexual but clearly they love each other.  

Lehmann, I think, published nine books.  Open Media Press has all the books listed on their webpage with links to Amazon but none of the books as of now seem available for sale.  I hope this means that they will soon be available as Kindles.  

Rosamond Lehmann (1901–1990) was born on the day of Queen Victoria's funeral, in Buckinghamshire, England, the second of four children. In 1927, a few years after graduating from the University of Cambridge, she published her first novel, Dusty Answer, to critical acclaim and instantaneous celebrity. Lehmann continued to write and publish between 1930 and 1976, penning works including The Weather in the StreetsThe Ballad and the Source, and the short memoir The Swan in the Evening. Lehmann was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1982 and remains one of the most distinguished novelists of the twentieth century. - from Open Media

This novel along with other works by Lehmann are being  published by Open Road Media.  The next time you are looking for something to read, especially if you prefer E reading as I do, take a look at their very well done webpage.  They have on offer books by over 2000 authors, all very well described and fairly priced.

Mel u

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