callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,
callmemadam
callmemadam

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Strange as fiction

I am reading Wild Mary, Patrick Marnham’s biography of Mary Wesley. I recently got rid of all my Mary Wesley books apart from The Camomile Lawn and I have to say Marnham’s book is better than the throw-outs. Mary Wesley’s life was certainly extreme. As a young woman she was presented at court three times, attended the coronation of George VI and was part of a large, wealthy, well connected social circle. After her second husband died she was so poor that by the end of the month she couldn’t afford to buy a postage stamp. She then drew on her own experiences to write books and her first published adult novel came out when she was over seventy. After that it was all success and glory: best selling books, the world wanting to interview her. Does she really merit a biography, though? I confess I can’t like her at all (with a nod at her bravery and stoicism) and consider her books completely amoral. I was interested to learn (not from the biography) that she was determined not to have her life written by ‘someone like Margaret Forster’ who wouldn’t understand her. I can’t help thinking that if she hadn’t slept with so many men, this book would not have been published.
Tags: books, mary wesley
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