Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Rosamund Lehmann catch-up part one. 53, 54, 69, 70

Having written up about Antonia White last week, this week it is Rosamund Lehmann's turn, as she is perhaps the first VMC author who led me onto reading other VMCs at the beginning of the year. I have decided to break this into two posts (check back tomorrow for the other half!) as it was very long as she has written seven books (Please do let me know whether you think this is an effective way of blogging about the books that I have already read and won't be blogging about individually)

The first one that I read was Dusty Answer (VMC 467), back in January, and I enjoyed it so much (having spent 2 months reading chick-lit in a depression-induced coma of not being able to choose anything interesting or concentrate on anything) that I sought out her other novels (and when done, and looking for other books, turned to Elizabeth Taylor and the rest of the VMCs).
I couldn't find a picture of the original green cover, so if anyone can help me out that would be great, but here are 2 other VMC covers (I read the bottom one):

Invitation to the waltz (VMC 53) is perhaps Lehmann's most famous book. This is the story of 17-year old Olivia as she anticipates going to her first dance. She is shy and awkward, in contrast to her socially successful sister. As the evening unfolds we are desperate for her to feel comfortable and meet a handsome young man to compensate for her stuffy and old escort. I think this is due to Lehmann's extremely good insight into the mind of a 17-year old girl.

There are five covers here, and I own the bottom one (although I originally borrowed the first green one from the library). I really do like the latest republication of the Lehmann's - I think they are on a par with the Daphne Du Maurier covers.

In the sequel to Invitation to the waltz, The weather in the streets (54), we meet Olivia again. She now lives in London, in a struggling Bohemian kind of existence, and is in love with Rollo, a married man, who is heir to become a baronet. Whilst Olivia and Rollo genuinely love each other, she is also in love with the life that she would be able to have if she were married to Rollo. Right from the start, due to Lehmann's haunting writing, we know that there cannot be a happy ending, and it is almost agonising to watch the story played out.

A note in music (VMC 70)

This was the final Rosamund Lehmann that I came to, in about April this year. But it was Lehmann's second novel, and perhaps the least understood and popular of her works. It is the story of Grace, and her husband Tom, and her friend Norah and her husband. Neither couple is terribly happy in their marriages. However, their lives are disturbed by the arrival of another couple, Hugh Miller and his sister Claire. Whilst nothing dramatic happens to change their lives, we see subtle changes and a move towards a greater level of hope.

I've only managed to find 2 covers, and think there must be a third.


  1. I really enjoy Rosamond Lehmann. I have read two you haven't mentioned; The Ballad and the Source and The Echoing Grove, which I loved, and A Note in Music, which I didn't enjoy as much...I found it a bit dull compared to the others. I have all first editions that I have picked up used, so no Virago covers.

    I also have Invitation to the Waltz, the Weather in the Streets and The Gypsy's Baby on my shelf waiting to be read.

    Dusty Answer I am eager to get a copy of but I am yet to find a used one in a shop. I am pretty certain in saying that Dusty Answer was never released as a green Virago; it was in print by Penguin until fairly recently as was The Echoing Grove so perhaps they couldn't get the rights until the modern covers came in, as The Echoing Grove doesn't have a green cover either.

  2. Verity, I was going to say exactly the same as Rachel- that Dusty Answer didn't have a green cover.

    I also like the modern covers of Lehmann's novels and three of her novels I have are modern and two green (the others I don't have yet).

    For the most part I enjoyed Dusty Answer -the only one I have yet read- but found it dry and dragging in the second part but that may be due to sometimes not being in the mood for dense fiction. I am looking forward to reading the remainder of her books.

  3. Thanks for the info on Dusty Answer guys :)

    Rachel - the other remaining books will be posted about tonight :)

    I hope I will be able to pick up more of the Virago editions of her books in due course (although it feels bad buying books that I've read...)

  4. I've not read Rosamund Lehmann but I've definitely seen the last cover of Invitation to the Waltz in my local Oxfam shop. I'll have a look to see if it's still available next time I go.