The Camomile Lawn
'"I would give myself, darling, if it would do any good, but who am I? I love money and a good time, I'm enjoying the war, I find it exciting and frightening. I enjoy the raids, I like all the men taking me out"' Behind the large house, the fragrant camomile lawn stretches down to the Cornish cliffs. Here, in the dizzying heat of August 1939, five cousins have gathered at their aunt's house for their annual ritual of a holiday. For most of them it is the last summer of their youth, with the heady exhilarations and freedoms of lost innocence, as well as the fears of the coming war. The Camomile Lawn moves from Cornwall to London and back again, over the years, telling the stories of the cousins, their family and their friends, united by shared losses and lovers, by family ties and the absurd conditions imposed by war as their paths cross and recross over the years. Mary Wesley presents an extraordinarily vivid and lively picture of wartime London: the rationing, imaginatively circumvented; the fallen houses; the parties, the new-found comforts of sex, the desperate humour of survival - all of it evoked with warmth, clarity and stunning wit. And through it all, the cousins and their friends try to hold on to the part of themselves that laughed and played dangerous games on that camomile lawn.
HERE COMES A VINTAGE SUMMER Escape your daily grind with Vintage Summer Classics. Get away from the sound and the fury, far from the madding crowd. Recline on Chesil Beach and take a dip in the sea, the sea. Be you in Havana or a town like Alice, these are books to transport you to a lawn, or the sea with a sailor or Captain, when ordinary life falls from grace.
Mary Wesley was born near Windsor in 1912. Her education took her to the London School of Economics and during the War she worked in the War Office. Although she initially fulfilled her parent's expectations in marrying an aristocrat she then scandalised them when she divorced him in 1945 and moved in with the great love of her life, Eric Siepmann. The couple married in 1952, once his wife had finally been persuaded to divorce him. She used to comment that her 'chief claim to fame is arrested development, getting my first novel [Jumping the Queue] published at the age of seventy'. She went on to write a further nine novels, three of which were adapted for television, including the best-selling The Camomile Lawn. Mary Wesley was awarded the CBE in the 1995 New Year's honour list and died in 2002.