I received an advanced review copy of this title from Open Road Media through NetGalley.
I absolutely feel in love with the quirky, charming and free-spirited character of Cluny Brown. We first meet her through the eyes of her Uncle Arn, who is distressed because he feels that Cluny doesn’t seem to know her proper place in life. He tells a stranger that he meets in the park that his twenty year-old niece had the nerve to treat herself to tea at the Ritz. Uncle Arn is simply beside himself that Cluny doesn’t understand that she is a plumber’s niece and has no business having tea at the Ritz.
Cluny is a young woman living in London in 1938; she is an orphan was raised by her Aunt Floss who has just died. She is left to live with her Uncle Arn for whose robust plumbing business she answers the phone. Through a series of hilarious circumstances through which Uncle Arn is further convinced that Cluny doesn’t know her place in life, Cluny is asked to leave Uncle Arn’s house. His orderly, neat life just can’t tolerate a loose canon like Cluny Brown. He finds a nice place for her in the countryside where she is to be employed as a parlour-maid.
Cluny lands in Devon at the estate of a country squire which is called Friars Carmel. Cluny serves the family at Friars Carmel which consists of the squire himself, Lord Henry, his wife Lady Carmel and their son Andrew. The family of the house has their own funny entanglements which mainly revolve around the question of Andrew’s bachelor status which threatens the legacy of Friars Carmel.
Cluny arrives at Friars Carmel at the same time as one of Andrew’s friends, a Polish writer named Adam who has apparently fled from the Nazis. Adam is also an interesting and quirky character in his own right as he spends his days basking in the country air, taking walks with Lady Carmel and trying to get some inspiration for his latest book. Adam thinks Cluny is one strange girl and they have some hilarious conversations in which they unsuccessfully try to understand one another.
There are many scenes in the book that are charming and funny due to Cluny’s naïve nature. When she meets the local chemist, Mr. Wilson, and he invites her to tea she is completely smitten with his cozy living room and his elderly mother. Cluny also has some interesting adventures when she makes friends with a neighbor’s dog and attempts to walk the beast through the English countryside.
I cannot recommend this charming book enough for its wonderful characters and delightful writing style; the end is also a bit of a surprise when Cluny finally figures out where she belongs in life.
I first heard about Margery Sharp’s books from Jane at Beyond Eden Rock. Please visit her site for more reviews of Sharp’s books.
About the Author:
Sharp wrote 26 novels, 14 children’s stories, 4 plays, 2 mysteries and many short stories. She is best known for her series of children’s books about a little white mouse named Miss Bianca and her companion, Bernard. Two Disney films have been made based on them, called The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under.
In 1938, she married Major Geoffrey Castle, an aeronautical engineer.