Thursday, 10 December 2009

The willow cabin (Frankau) 293

The willow cabin was a VMC that I acquired without knowing anything about, and thus did not expect high things from (it's weird what makes you anticipate some books more than others). I can't even remember where I got it from. But it turned out to be a hidden gem.

The book is divided into three sections, telling the story of Caroline. In the first section, she seems set for a promising stage career - we see her perform as Viola (a speech of whom's provides the title for this book). She then meets, and falls in love with Michael Knowle, a surgeon, and her career takes second place to spending time with him and trying to evade the spectre of his first marriage and his ex-wife Mercedes. The Second World War then breaks out, and Michael is called up, and Caroline decides also to undertake war service as being the best way of trying to stay close to Michael. Unfortunately, Michael is killed in action. In the third section, we meet Mercedes, and we go back in time to when she first met Michael, and track the course of their relationship. The two stories then come together, when Caroline seeks out Mercedes as part of her attempt to come to terms with Michael's death.

I loved the story, and the period details (am always a fan of wartime fiction and this as particularly well done) and liked Frankau's style of writing very much.

Only published the once by Virago. However, they have published two other novels by Frankau - The winged horse, and A wreath for the enemy - which I shall be keenly looking out for.


  1. If I'm not mistaken I think that this was one you acquired in the bulk buy from ebay. I remember you mentioning it though and that I knew it was highly regarded; it is one I would very much like to read.

  2. Well remembered! I didn't know that it was highly regarded so it was a delight that what was obscure to me turned out to be so enjoyable.

  3. this sounds like a great read. I love wartime fiction as well and, frankly, the front cover of this book is worth getting it for alone!

  4. I love Frankau. "A Wreath for the Enemy" has long been one of my favorite books, and "Sing for Your Supper" is another. Glad to see her getting some attention here as I feel that she is one of those undeservedly forgotten writers.

  5. Naomi - I think you'd like this one.

    OolooKitty - I'm looking forward to reading another one of hers.

  6. I read this the other day exactly as you did, with no prior knowledge and no expectations -- and Ioved it. Haven't tried any others of hers yet but I definitely will.