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Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

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But on the following summer the sandbags had rotted and burst and the barbed-wire had been absorbed into the farmer’s fences. Yes, I think it was probably quite a radical premise in that day and age, an unmarried woman branching out in such a way against the better judgement of her family. You see, it's a matter of dilution, and not much can be done if a work runs headlong into losing itself in the crowd. Laura's nose and chin were defined as sharply as the peaks of a holly leaf', and 'He loved the countryside as if it were a body. As a child, Sylvia seemingly enjoyed an idyllic childhood in rural Devonshire, but was strongly affected by her father's death.

Part 1 is all charming, "quintessentially" English eccentricities—a broad assortment of kooky extended family members, whimsical family heirlooms hoarded in drawing rooms, teatime and other daily rituals, and the like; this is the life of one Laura Willowes, quietly sloughed into a life of genteel spinsterhood, and cloistered in the tiny spare room in a brother’s family home in London. She slowly transforms into docile “Aunt Lolly” after being christened as such by a baby niece—her identity is so nondescript that even she doesn’t quite register her very name is no longer her own. Warner proves to be a most devious hostess, however: seemingly invited to a pleasantly amusing afternoon garden party, it is only as the sun begins to set that it slowly begins to dawn—this is actually a Witch’s Sabbath! Henry, her brother, vehemently disagrees with her plans, for some selfish reasons of his own, not wanting to admit, he's not such a great business man. Lolly tells us that she does what she does, to have a life of one’s own, not an existence doled out to you by others, charitable refuse of their thoughts.When I think of witches, I seem to see all over England, all over Europe, women living and growing old, as common as blackberries, and as unregarded. Somehow, that age was like Aurora’s sixteenth birthday and triggered a magic spell that meant that “duty” could be relaxed a little- only a little, and only gradually, but it happened.

This posh family gives up trying to marry off daughter Laura so she stays at home looking after dear widower Daddy until she is 28 when he pops his clogs.There's a tool of online fanfiction known more so by Mary Sue and less so by Gary Stu that, in short, makes deus ex machina a character type. It was scarcely audible, more perceptible as feeling than as sound, but by its regularity it dominated all the other voices. Now, for sure, Lolly Willowes is a shoo-in for The 100 Most Charming Oddities in English but one of the all time best?

Yes, it does feel as if there was something a little eccentric about Sylvia Townsend Warner, maybe in terms of her powers of imagination and creative skills.The spent gusts left the beech-hangers throbbing like sea caverns through which the wave had passed; the fir plantation seemed to chant some never-ending rune. She had quitted so much of herself in quitting Somerset that it seemed natural to relinquish her name also.

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