Margery Sharp Day 2016: Cluny Brown

clunySo sorry that this is a day late, but I had a very busy day yesterday and didn’t find the time to finish up my post – better late than never, I suppose!

I was so pleased when Jane from Beyond Eden Rock announced her second annual Margery Sharp Day. I really enjoyed reading Britannia Mews last year and had good intentions to read another of Sharp’s novels before 2015 ended. However, we all know how good intentions can fall by the wayside when it comes to reading. So, I was happy to have this opportunity to try Sharp again and fortunate to find a 1944 copy of Cluny Brown at Tumbleweed Books in Pueblo, Colorado.

Cluny Brown is set in 1938 and starts off in London. We first learn about the main character, Cluny Brown, from other’s opinions and views of her. Her Uncle Arn, with whom she lives, strikes up a conversation with an older woman in Kensington Gardens and tells this woman that Cluny ‘doesn’t know her place’. And that is the crux of Cluny’s problems – she thinks she can do things that young women of her station and skills wouldn’t normally do. It perplexes her uncle and frustrates other relations and after she makes an ill-advised decision regarding an older man and his bathroom her uncle and his sister-in-law steer her into service.

She lands in Devon at Friars Carmel, the home of Sir Henry, Lady Carmel and their son Andrew. Mostly resigned to her fate she settles in as a housemaid among the very gracious family, their Polish refugee house guest, Adam Belinksi, and the other household staff. She also meets a kind if dull chemist who gives her hope for a different life.

In the end, Cluny makes a decision that is wholly unexpected yet wholly and utterly perfect. She’s known all along that she doesn’t want the life most expected for women of her status and the reader doesn’t want that for her either. For Cluny is curious and energetic, unafraid and full of natural charm. She’s meant for more than the life of a housemaid.

Like Britannia Mews, Cluny Brown is a dream. I loved all of the characters so much that I didn’t want to leave them. Sharp creates real and delightful worlds with a slightly fairy tale quality that completely envelop the reader – I was enchanted.

Now to decide – wait for next year’s Margery Sharp Day to read another of her novels or jump straight in to one now?

18 thoughts on “Margery Sharp Day 2016: Cluny Brown

  1. Sharp’s such a wonderful writer, and there are so many of her books I’m hearing highly recommended. I just wish more would come up in my local shops! 🙂


  2. I read one book by Margery Sharp years ago – and I cannot remember its title. I liked it very much. All along this common reading you have done, I have looked for the word with which I would qualify her novels, fund it but did not dare to comment because I thought this might be interpreted as unkind. But you say it so I am not afraid anymore! Yes, I find there is an element of fairy tale in her books and this is what makes them so delightful. 🙂


      1. I agree. There are some authors that I am reading or have been reading that write realistically so that we may identify in some ways to their charcters, plot, setting, etc., but who give a light twist and there you are with a fairy tale touch that gives you a comfort feeling and makes the world lovely and worthwhile. And you feel optimistic again!
        And I have written what I wanted to make as a blog entry… Please, do not say so when you read it tomorrow or the day after 🙂


  3. Well, of course I’m going to say jump in right now, because there are so many lovely books ahead of you if only you can find copies, I’m so pleased that you were charmed by Cluny too, and thank you so much for being part of Margery Sharp Day again.


  4. I really enjoyed this book as well. Cluny is such an interesting character – and I loved Lady Carmel. I envy your copy – my paperback has a truly hideous cover, and what a find!

    I know that I’ll be reading more soon 🙂


    1. I loved Lady Carmel too! She was so tactful and gracious – and kind.

      I was so happy to find this copy. I wasn’t even looking for Margery Sharp and there she was. I loved that book shop so much – I’m tempted to drive back to Colorado soon so I can fill up my car with all of its bounty.


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