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As Helena Cuthbertson, known as Aunt Helena, and her niece by marriage Polly make their way separately to the funerals of Max Erstweiler, a German Jewish musician who had made England his home since WWII, they both reminisce about their family stories. These involve the pre-war games of a gaggle of cousins, including gorgeous Calypso Cuthbertson, who wanted only to be rich and didn't know how to love, Oliver Anstey who wanted only to have Calypso to himself but alas, was not rich, Sophy, who as the youngest, and living with aunt Helena and uncle Richard, only knew good times when her cousins were about, Walter Cuthbertson, Polly's brother who also loved Calypso, but knew better than to declare himself, and a pair of twins, the local vicar's sons. And of course, uncle Richard, who defines himself by his lost leg, sacrificed during the Great War and Aunt Helena, who only discovered love when she began her extra-marital affair with the ever unfaithful Max Erstweiler, while Richard naturally took up with Max's wife, Monika. The Camomile Lawn of the story is one of the most charming features of Aunt Helena's house in Cornwall where all the cousins share their favourite fond memories. I truly loved this story and once again enjoyed Wesley's wonderful prose, but perhaps having such a large cast of characters made it more difficult for me to keep track of the goings on and form an attachment to any one of the characters. All the same, a terrific family saga mostly set in the England of the Second World War. Carole Boyd's narration makes an already great novel that much more pleasant to listen to.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
It was OK. When I read this for the first time in the 1990's I loved it. Coming back to listen I wasn't so sure. Many of the characters just weren't very nice and I didn't much care what happened to them.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
A little difficult to say as this was my second time with The Chamomile Lawn. It was, I would say, predictable.
What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?
It was good. She created individual characters and caught their personalities well.
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
I'm sure I saw the mini-series!
First read this after seeing the Channel 4 adaptation in early 90s and loved it. It was a welcome refresher to listen to this audiobook presentation - the narrator was excellent at giving the cast of characters different voices. The characters themselves are likeably dislikeable on occasion, and the story can be quite brittle at times but ultimately is very compelling. Definitely recommended!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I really loved this story. It has been filmed by the BBC but there are some parts that had to be changed or omitted. You wouldn't know that this detracts from the story until, like me you read it yourself or have it read to you. It is warm, humorous, sad and incredibly moving. I am thankful that I was not born until after the war but these characters and their stories made me wish I had been there - and isn't that what a good story is all about?
2 of 2 people found this review helpful