Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

Lolly Willowes (Penguin Modern Classics)

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I read somewhere that there are clues all along that she’s a witch: she likes flowers so much, makes herbal infusions and likes wandering in fields. So, reduced circumstances and all, Laura heads off to Great Mop where she must now take rooms in a cottage run by a somewhat idiosyncratic landlady, Mrs Leak.

Her father was a house-master at Harrow School and was, for many years, associated with the prestigious Harrow History Prize which was renamed the Townsend Warner History Prize in his honor, after his death in 1916.Despite that, I did enjoy Sylvia Townsend Warner’s writing style; it was very poetic and also witty at times. If you are a were-wolf, and very likely you may be, for lots of people are without knowing, February, of all months, is the month when you are most likely to go out on a dark windy night and worry sheep. As an unmarried woman and youngest child in the family, Laura keeps house for her widowed father with consummate ease.

When I think of witches, I seem to see all over England, all over Europe, women living and growing old, as common as blackberries, and as unregarded. Even in her darker passages, Townsend Warner maintains a light, almost frivolous tone, and it is this tone perhaps that temporarily masks the fact that Warner is, in fact, dealing with a very serious issue.This leads her to purchase a guidebook for The Chilterns, where she first learns of the existence of the village of Great Mop. It did to some extent but it took such an odd, unexpected turn towards the end when Lolly moves away to a little hamlet and then realizes that she’s a witch.

Botany and brewery she now combined into one pursuit, for at the spur of Nannie’s rhyme she turned her attention into the forsaken green byways of the rural pharmacopeia. That’s why we become witches: to show our scorn of pretending life’s a safe business to satisfy our passion for adventure…. I blame everything that Lolly Willowes rebels against in this book for the fact that I didn’t really meet my dad until four years ago. But for all the qualities I adored in this book, I found the whole witchcraft = female power equation problematic.Warner exquisitely captures the torture of wanting something different, something more, but being aware that anything “more” or “different” will only ensure that you find yourself completely shut out. This striking story, published in 1926, perfectly blends a deceptive lightness with a serious argument: that a woman sidelined by life has so little opportunity for escape and respect that she might as well become a witch. The spent gusts left the beech-hangers throbbing like sea caverns through which the wave had passed; the fir plantation seemed to chant some never-ending rune. I loved how the beginning is so conventional but then becomes less and less conventional and as you say surprising. When Laura Willowes’s beloved father dies, she is absorbed in the household of her brother and his family.

From Everard [her father] she got a little still, from the family recipe-books much information and good advice; and where these failed her, Nicholas Culpepper or old Goody Andrews, who might have been Nicholas’s crony by the respect she had for the moon, were ready to help her out. The war had liberated millions of women (Townsend Warner had worked in a munitions factory) and wiped out a generation of young men.

Laura Willowes is first a companion to her father and then after his death goes to her brothers household, Aunt Lolly is how she is known from then on. Inside she is in a state of carpet chewing agony, she is suffocating, drowning, dying, and one day she can’t take it any more and she ups and announces she wants to go and live all alone in a teeny village nobody has heard of. She seemed to be standing alone in a darkening orchard, her feet in the grass, her arms stretched up to the pattern of leaves and fruit, her fingers seeking the rounded ovals of the fruit among the pointed ovals of the leaves. Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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