The Ladies of Lyndon – Margaret Kennedy

This book which was written in the mid nineteen twenties about an age some ten years earlier and subsequent periodic years after is very much a reflection on what life must have been like for the upper classes.

Lyndon is the country house where it seems all the ‘ladies’ are either connected or visit through the course of the book. For my review I have decided to concentrate on the ‘characters’ as I think it is their interaction which stands out for me in this book.

Agatha becomes the mistress of Lyndon when she marries Sir John Clewer, she is only young and it is a marriage that has been strongly constructed and devised by her own mother Mrs Agatha Cocks and John’s stepmother the Dowager Lady Marian Clewer.

James Clewer, is Sir John’s brother and he is labeled as ‘odd’, ‘strange’. His mother died whilst giving birth to him and this has then been given as the reason why he is talked about in hushed whispers and treated as the family embarrassment.

Dolly is the maid and is of course of another class to all of others we meet in this novel. However, she causes a stir and marries James. This in itself adds to the whispers of James however, it is their relationship which is shown as the most settled and was a union of simple love without any form of interference. It is this which Agatha aspires to throughout.

Gerald Blair is the cousin of Agatha. An eminent doctor and the man who shakes Agatha’s emotions and reawaken feelings from the past.

Cynthia  is the child of Marian Clewer and Sir John’s father. Again marriage is of course the ultimate goal but she is resentful of what Agatha gets when she marries, the title, the name, the husband, the house. Cynthia marries older and to a man who makes money because of war and wants to show it all off.

Lois is Marian’s daughter from her first marriage, and is someone who sees marriage as a step away from her mother. She settles for Hubert and by the end of the book it seems that perhaps all might be well for her.

This is a book about society, attitudes, social interaction, about where you marry and your position in life.  It is not about love and whilst I believed in James and Dolly, if you were looking for romance in this novel you would not find it.

The book is created in a way of watching people, at times I felt I was being rather voyeuristic and glimpsing these lives which were not actually very nice ones, I got no joy in watching and seeing this people suffer. The book captures I think a snapshot of a period in history and if you were researching this era, then this would be a book which would give you quite an insight.

I read this book as part of Jane’s Margaret Kennedy Reading Week. This was my first foray into MK and at the moment I am not sure if I would read any of her others. It is a book which I enjoyed but I didn’t all at that same time. Perhaps I should have started with another one? 

However I am pleased I challenged myself to read it and join in. Of course by doing so, you not only get to look at the other books available but also meet some new bloggers along the way. Thank you to Jane for hosting and pointing my reading in another direction. 


6 thoughts on “The Ladies of Lyndon – Margaret Kennedy

  1. This book does seem to have divided opinion this week. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this more and I do appreciate your willingness to join in and to take a chance on a new author. Her books are quite diverse, and If you were to try another I’d recommend one of her later books, probably ‘Lucy Carmichael’ which is still my own favourite.

  2. I read The Constant Nymph for the reading week and enjoyed it, but it’s my first Margaret Kennedy book so I don’t know how it compares to the one you read. Sorry you didn’t like it more.

  3. I haven’t read anything by Margaret Kennedy but your feelings about this book reflect almost completely my thoughts when I read The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Great time period but not very nice characters!

    1. Don’t start me on The Great Gatsby – had to read it at school and it has scarred me for life I think!

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