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Mariana (Persephone Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

First published about 1940, this novel was written by a great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens. The story is about one terrible night during which a woman waits to hear whether her husband has survived the sinking of his ship by a German sub. Mary recalls idyllic childhood summers spent at the family's country house-playing with cousins, riding ponies and, in later years, fox hunts and dances. The beautiful prose and apt dialog are beautifully narrated by Jane Asher. One caveat: a whiff of anti-Semitism appears; for instance, Mary is devastated to learn that, after the country house is sold to a Jewish man, the tree she used to swing from as a child has been cut down for firewood. She thinks it wrong that her tree was sacrificed so that "a rich Jew" can warm his toes by the fire. Otherwise, this is a fine additon to fiction collections.
Luana Ellis, Jamestown Community Coll. Lib., Olean, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

About the Author

Monica Dickens was born in London in 1915. Her father was Henry Charles Dickens, the eighth son of Charles Dickens. She was an active humanitarian and is the author of numerous novels and children's books. Now a freelance journalist, Harriet Lane worked as a reporter and columnist for the London Observer.
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Product Details

  • Series: Persephone Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books (December 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906462046
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906462048
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G. Messersmith VINE VOICE on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
The title of the book is taken from Tennyson's poem by the same name. Tennyson's poem is referenced several times throughout the novel and has great significance at the end of the book. The protagonist of the novel is named Mary and through her retelling, we experience her childhood, her family, the men of her life, and the wonder of England before WWII.

This is a romantic novel with a not-so-perfect heroine. Mary is cute but not beautiful. She is not overly intelligent but she is good, straight and often dear and sweet. By reading this book one can glimpse a certain place and time and the things happening at the time (between the 2 World Wars).

I found the book to be enchanting and delightful. When away from the novel, I couldn't help but wonder what Mary was up to next and how it would all end for her. The author Monica Dickens, grand-daughter of Charles Dickens, is quite talented as a writer.

I highly recommend this book and hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Bauchelle on October 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Ms Dickens since first discovering One Pair of Hands on a second-hand stall while I was still at university... I started collecting all her books, as I came across them, and Mariana has long been a stand-out. My old orange-and-white Penguin copy was literally falling apart so I decided to replace it - which of course meant I had to read it again - and it's lost nothing. Such a wonderful glimpse into a time and era that's now gone; such a realistic and human portrait of a normal girl's life. The book mixes yearning and freedom; choices and duties, in a beautiful manner, and provides a look at a London and an England which are gone beyond recall and yet still so enticing. It's a dated book, in the best possible way, but the main themes of family, love and finding out who you are, are timeless.

Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Mariana is the story of one young girl's growth towards adulthood during the 1920s and `30s. The book begins when Mary Shannon is eight, and traveling with her somewhat flighty mother to Charbury, her grandparents' house; and continues up through the time that Mary is twenty-four and waiting to hear news of her husband from the war.

Monica Dickens (a great-granddaughter of Charles) depicts Mary's maturation to adulthood with perfection. The reader sympathizes with Mary as she experiences the ups and downs of relationships and careers--experimenting with both seems to be pretty characteristic of Mary, as she grapples a bit with identity and independence. And yet, there isn't the usual amount of teenage angst that one usually finds in a novel about growing up, which I found to be very refreshing. Mary is a sweet and sometimes naïve girl, but at the same time, she's also wonderfully sarcastic towards her peers. She's hard to like at times, but in an odd way, I found myself sympathizing with her.

Even without reading the preface of the novel, one can tell that the author borrowed a lot from her own life to write this book. The tone of the book, with its triumphs and disappointments, absolutely rings true. Mariana, which takes its title from the Tennyson poem, is now the third Persephone book I've read. It's a lighthearted and lovely book, as Persephones usually are.
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By anglofille on May 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book may be too wonderful to even loan out for fear of never getting it back. It has it all...wonderful, well told story, a very dear protagonist, and of course, LOVE!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shadesofwords on September 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story is about the young Mary Shannon whose life has been irrevocably touched by war. Her father died in the first war and she has grown in the care of her fiercely independent mother. At the onset of the novel, we see Mary waiting one stormy night, to hear if her lover away at sea is alive or dead. The book than dives into her childhood and basically follows a linear narrative till the end , when the suspense is relieved.
Monica Dickens character sketches are interesting and complete. Most of the characters are immensly likeable and believable. Mariana is essentially Mary's story about her childhood and youth and her relationship with the men in her life. There is Uncle Geoff , Grandpa, cousin Denys - the relationships of her childhood. Then there is Piere from Paris and Sam the architect -the loves of her youth.
The story is also about Mary finding her true calling but that is not something that really stays with you. As you read the book , you realize that Mary is basically not exceptional at anything. She is really a very ordinary person and I think that therein lies the appeal of the story. However, I really like my heroines to be slightly strong exceptional characters so I could not build any real fondness for Mary. But there are other things to look for - interesting characters, lovely descriptions of beautiful England, dynamics of a large family, and most importantly relating to the pain of finding yourself.
In short , its a pretty decent book.
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