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A Dubious Legacy A really strange book great gaps in the plot a lot of false leads and characters that drifted in and out Scenes that did not resonate with the structure is there one of the narrative I've never been a fan of Mary Wesley and I'm afraid I never will be at this rate A very poor book indeed A country house farce or comedy or tragicomedy with Shakespearean comedy undertones and a possible influence on Barbara Trapido From one angle it's preoccupied to an eyewatering and barely credible degree with the sex lives and life choices as dependent on the sex lives or two young nineteen year old women well educated well regulated rich not wanting to work wanting better home lives than their mothers Antonia and Barbara are intelligently level headed while their fiances are limited flawed one is in love with his sexually liberated ex comparatively featureless From another angle Wesley's 'romance' is a character study of a good hearted man Henry a farmer and lord of a decaying West Country manor about thirty five when the action starts and darkly handsome Henry has made a strange forced marriage at his dying father's beuest to a damaged eccentric Margaret whose previous alliance to a German in wartime Egypt left her with few options for safety Margaret possibly resents Henry's largess retiring to her bed the moment she is carried or dragged over the threshold of CottesloeThe novel turns on Henry's magnanimity as well as his peccadilloes expressing themselves in his fatherhood something Margaret who does not sleep with him vows she will frustrate But this feature of the story is implicit than one might expect Henry in the most estimable spirit of tolerance and humanity only wants to please his wife buying her gifts in London where he visits his lovers or else 'call girls' When he brings her perfume she douses the two dogs with it When his gift is a cockatoo well this is the tragicomic and fairly weighty business of the novel's big set piece Typical Mary Wesley acerbic sparse pacey storyline This one centred around a troublesome wife Margaret who lives most her life in bed; her long suffering husband Henry who has a web of secrets and a growing number of secrets as the book unfolds and a group of friends and neighbours who are regular house guests at his country estate A novel full of humour eccentric characters from the English middle classes sex and oft times rather odd behaviours Would people really have said what they said when they said it Maybe maybe not and let's not forget the cockatoo either But never mind she was one of a kind and such original writing behoves reading Good holiday entertainment Jones Aside from the typo I found and the numerous punctuation errors my main problem with this book was that the author dragged too many characters into it And some of them seemed interchangeable and so I couldn't keep them straight Mainly the two young couples Barbara James and Antonia MatthewI know it's bad and dumb but I couldn't keep them straight They were all so similar and boring and stereotypical that they didn't stand out Not one had an interesting character flaw that made them stand out and then spoiler alert when they all did the same things it was additionally boring and convolutedSo we are to believe that two young women best friends get asked by their boyfriends who are also very good friends to drive out to a country farm where surprise they BOTH get engaged on pretty much the same nightAnd not only that spoiler alert They end up marrying these lunkheads complaining about them and immediately both getting pregnant by them and SURPRISE then they're ALL back at the farm during a visit and BOTH women go into labor at the same time And they get beds in the hospital side by side It's ludicrous and stupidI admit there are the few moments that are slightly interesting and funny but overall it's pretty unbelievable in a big way I know it's just a story but it seems like the author just slapped together all of the witty and bitchy things she'd ever heard people say and threw everything in a pot and wrote a bookI will give her this I DID want to know what the hell happens at the end and so I read the entire thing I am not sure I would recommend this book to anyone but it is an easy read except for trying to remember which young couple are arguing I really struggled to keep them apart and mostly plowed through the book not caring just so that I could finish the damned thing Yes I said it Sigh On the threshold of their new life together Margaret gave Henry a black eye and went straight to bed where she or less remained for the rest of her life Two young couples become regular if uneasy houseguests over the years listening and speculating until finally piecing together the rumours and the mystery they find themselves tangled in the web of Henry’s life This was my introduction to Mary Wesley I liked this book very much and I intend to read Wesley's other books A Dubious Legacy kept my interest my attention and was responsible for the discreet smile I presented throughout its reading For indeed the doings of three couples through several decades in mid 20th century the subject under scrutiny in this comedy of manners was portrayed with humorous detachment and unwavering perspicacity Ms Wesley is very good at placing her characters within the axioms of each decade's s and develops insightful cameos of each era's preoccupationsThis is a short novel a succinct book developed in a fast tempo keeping all along a mystery we hope to unveil The central characters look at first as banal as they can be but soon we realize appearances are misleading These six upper middle class friends in the English country side are the source of great social commentary made by an ironic and warm narrator a painter as it were using few incisive strokes The result is great fun and speedy reading a book which I would recommend to anyone wishing to be intrigued and entertained The dubious legacy of this novel involves a bizarre deathbed reuest and a monstrous marriage that can never be repaired For reasons that are never made clear Henry Tillotson and his wife Margaret choose to stay married to the bitter end Set in England’s West County Henry’s visitors are not unduly disturbed by the overt nastiness pathological lying and vicious jibes of Henry’s wife Even a cruel and ugly scene involving a hapless cockatoo fails to draw attention to the innate madness of Margaret She is not an invalid And the fact that she rarely bothers getting out of her bed is accepted by most of the visitors who come into contact with herWesley’s story has pace and her tone is essentially comic Her characters are very lively and up to all manner of subterfuge and deception I really enjoy Mary Wesley's entertaining way of writing such naughty things happen in her books And she alludes to them subtly it's not all in your face faithlessness and so on The bride Henry brings home is just too awful for words I like that the author doesn't diagnose her she describes her mad behaviour without judging or justifying I must say Henry is in the most awful predicament but he manages his life uite well I don't know why he's too sueamish to spend her money though were I his friend I would have urged him not to worry just because he dislikes her It's not a valid enough reason in my view But obviously in Henry's Such a self absorbed dreadful woman so well described And the younger women are beautifully sketched too Anyway a very good read Henry brought his new bride Margaret to Cotteshaw in 1944 On the threshold she blackened his eye and went straight to bed where she remained for the rest of her life except for time out for nasty deeds to Henry the dogs the parakeet and guests who remained for longer and longer periods of time I enjoy Wesley's sense of humour and sweet cynicism in all of her books that I've read; this one was no exception I thoroughly enjoy Mary Wesley’s writing Her characters are flawed sometimes their lives can seem a terrible mess yet beauty and meaning still emerges and is perhaps appreciated because it cannot be taken for granted

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