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, April 19, 2022

Strange Journey by Maude, Cairnes - First published in 1935 - This edition published in 2022 by The British Library - with a preface by Lucy Evans and an afterword by Simon Thomas

Information on The British Library Women Writers Series - From Stuck in a Book

Strange Journey by Maud Cairnes - 

First published in 1935 - This edition published in 2022 by The British Library - with a preface by Lucy Evans and an afterword by Simon Thomas 

March 28, 1893 to February 8, 1965

Maud Cairnes was born in 1893, the eldest child of Warner Hastings, 15th Earl of Huntingdon, and Maud, Countess of Huntingdon.  Her full name was Lady Maud Kathleen Cairnes Plantagenet Hastings, from which she took two names to publish her works of fiction, though she was known as Lady Kathleen.  

Polly Wilinkson, happily married to Tom,with two young children is what was then considered upper Middle Class with one servants.  She does have to manage her household, avoid making her helper mad while helping Tom advance in his office job.  One day she sees in front of her house an elegant woman in a Rolls Royce.  She wonders what kind of life she leads. Lady Elizabeth is a member of the landed gentry.

Here are Polly’s thoughts:

“Suddenly I felt a longing to change places with her, to get into that big, comfortable looking car, lean back in the soft cushions I felt sure that it contained, while the chauffeur made it glide away through the dusk to some pleasant house where there would be efficient servants and tea waiting, with a silver teapot, thin china, and perhaps hot scones, nice deep arm chairs to sit in, and magazines lying on the table.

The traffic moves, the Rolls passes, and Polly goes back into the house. A week or so later, a picture of a similar Rolls in a magazine brings back that daydream. But suddenly, Polly feels a moment of dizziness, after which her head clears and she looks down at her hands.”

Polly has changed places with Lady Elizabeth.  At first she things it must be a dream but when she returns to her House she finds for the last  few days she has been acting strange.  She realizes Lady Elizabeth has been in her place.  Over the next several months she is repeatedly transport to the Grand House of Lady Elizabeth.  She realizes all is not Right with Lady Elizabeth’s marriage to Major Forrester Gerald.She wonders if Elizabeth is Sleeping in bed with Tom while she has to ward Elixabeth’s husband out of her room.  When Polly first was in the Grand House she did not know which of the 22 rooms was hers.  She is turned off by a big hunting party though Elixabeth loved it. Polly cannot shot or ride well at all.

While back at Polly’s place Elizabeth regales the children with stories of knight, castles and dragons.  She attends a party for Tom’s boss, an event that would have intimidated Polly and pulls it off perfectly. To her Tom’s boss is way below her but she plays her role.

Polly and Elizabeth meet up to deal with what is happening to them.  I thought this made Strange Journey even more interesting.

There is much comic in the plot.  There is no hint of Life for those lower down in Society.  

This edition includes bio data on Maud Cairnes.

I throughly enjoyed Strange Journey.

Mel Ulm


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