Sn t really get a sense of who Hebe is she seems to be all things to every person but that might have been be all things to every person but that might have been on the part of the authorThe best character in it was Silas Hebe s son and his wonderful performance whilst on holiday with the insufferable Jennifer and her family in the Scilly Isles was fabThere is a fantastic class commentary in this just who are the right kind of people and why are they so awful Me being from the plebeian nderclass could never know the answers to these estions I can only sit back and gape in wonder at it all asking myself in bemusement is helicopter the only way to get to the Scilly Isles Well I never knew that Fantastic for putting your foot out of bed
seeing how the other half lives For those of you who are not familiar with Mary Wesley here s brief introduction She was kick ass with a capital K Need info Fair enough Born in 1912 she lived till the fairly grand age of 90 and racked p ten novels and a CBE all of which was achieved after her 70th birthday When not writing best sellers and scandalising what was left of so called polite society in the 1980s she was and this is supposition on my part busy outliving and outdoing most people who were less than half her age With an affair and two marriages Unraveling Josh (Ellery College, under her belt she had a liberal attitude to sex swearing and thumbing her nose at wannabe posh knobs with sticksp their arsesMost famous for writing The Camomile Lawn she continues on a similar series of themes in Harnessing Peacocks by penning the liberal tale of Hebe 19 year old runaway turned part time cook and call girl With a 12 year old son to support the product of a fiesta based liason in Italy while learning to be a Cordon Bleu cook as you do Hebe juggles men like hot scones as her syndicate of gentlemen move in ever decreasing circles which is bound to end in them all running into one another at some point Hinjinks and whatnot will ensueHebe is supported by a lively group of characters including some feisty old ladies who are no strangers to intrigue and foreign liasons themselves In addition there s Terry the French knicker wearing dilettante Rory the mad hatter yes an actual milliner and a dog called Feathers Mary is here to remind A Consortium of Worlds us that even posh people old people and heaven forbid even your parents shag and sex is not something invented by the yoofs I think I read almost all of Mary Wesley s books several years ago This was one of the most entertaining Wesley s 3rd of 10 published novel for adults and for me one of her top 3 or 4 whose small flaws eg line and paragraph spacing as raised in are really immaterial given theality of the read the dialogue and plot It s one of my favourite reads fiction or non fiction of the last five yearsI liked this one so much I bought the hardback edition having read it in pb such was my feeling that this is a keeperWhat to say that doesn t give the game away Let s start here The novel is hard to classify in genre It has comic elements certainly thriller and mystery elements too and a lot of social criticism explicit or as often with Wesley implicit for the reader to catch interpret and make of as she sees fitBut if a category is needed perhaps the nearest is personal adventure story It has The Sublime uite a lot in common with the picaresue novels at the outset of the whole broad genre of long prose fictionBorn into a cold and to put it mildlynsupportive family a young woman breaks free and makes her own way through life by whatever means she can She builds Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical up her life and employment skills with the help of the friendly people she chances across testing whatever doors she can find open esp if they have relatively welcoming people at them To make ends meetIt is never a wholly safe or stable life and presents many scrapes and precarious episodesThe book is daring even for 1985 England particularly in its candid inclusion of some of the notniversally socially acceptable ways Hebe makes ends meet There is also ite a lot of frank demotic in this novel as throughout Wesley s oeuvre Hardly recommended for those of a prudish disposition There are of course just such morally adventurous female characters in the tradition notably English 18thc novels But while it is as always with this author left to readers to reach their own moral or moralising conclusions will you be as nremittingly harsh as many of Wesley s parental figures my own conclusion is that Hebe is presented as one of Wesley s outright heroines Not merely one of her central female figures but an admirable inspiring figureHowever harshly she is dealt with in childhood onwards she always seeks to play fair with those she meets and or less befriend her as far as her often parlous lifestyle allows She shows those paramount Wesleyan virtues of spirit courage resilience fortitude resourcefulness and surprisingly fair play despite travails and vicissitudes experienced When she can t take it she moves on in her little car trying to avoid damage Given the difficulties and obstructions placed in the path of a young woman trying to make her own way nd. Dependence wit and sensuality Nineteen year old Hebe flees her family to avoid the forced aborti. Er her own steam not to mention the gauntlet of moral disapproval she constantly runs and threats of showdown exposure and ruin this is clearly heroine class behaviour in the eyes of the author And I have to say mine tooMary Wesley s novels generally are marked by a high degree of self centred subjectivity on the part of the characters Even the heroines The moral difference is often how far the self centredness is damaging even purposefully callously damaging to others to others even who are in one s care parents and guardians towards children and wards as opposed to an essential vital self interest in finding viable ways to cope to survive and where possible flourish despite adversity opposition and not rarely considerable malice To me Hebe certainly comes emphatically nder the second definition And the subjectivity It may be blindness the hamartia of ancient tragedy It is often often a marked degree of self deception Nascars Wildest Wrecks usually inadvertent Even this writer s most affectionately painted heroines habitually fool themselves tend to imagine situations characters feelings that are not so eg falling victim to wishful thinking ignoring warning signs This adds sparkle and hazard to the storylines The subjectivity of less admirable characters may be something closer to monstrous grasping selfishness with no regard whatsoever to the trauma caused to others But of course right or wrong repugnant admirable acceptable ornfair play all such verdicts on characters are A Land More Kind Than Home ultimately left to Wesley s readers She typically presents sky high moral emotional stakes where any decision a character takes may have immense conseuences Those who may appear pleasant may have hidden skeletons those who live on the margins may live by socially taboo codes but appear in the end honourable in their dealings with others Wesley makes the reader work fairly hard to reach definitive assessments and these may be complexBy all accounts Wild Mary herself was a free spirit There is always mischief afoot also in her writing Out to shock That certainly too Especially as regards sexual behaviour and sexual choices There is cruel fun in evidence in places including cruel ironies in the turns of the characters lives Exploitation abandonment deprivation hurt and death are common A criticism sometimes levelled at this author is that she is wantonly malicious playing nasty tricks on even her most admirable characters and creating somensympathetic traits in most when not painting wholly nsympathetic personalities some of whom are downright alienating I think this misunderstands Wesley s ways as a writer also her intentions some of whom are downright alienating I think this misunderstands Wesley s ways as a writer also her intentions an author She creates complexities of plot and in characterisation Some characters fall nder the worst possible variations of self centredness and subjectivity as discussed above There are some out and out villains though not many But many even the best characters have weaknesses in perception psychology and social James Still uncertainty often related to background and circumstancesOne might therefore argue that an alienated reader who finds all the charactersnsympathetic and no plots satisfactory was possibly looking for something too comforting too nproblematic too pastoral or bucolic than these 10 novelsMary Wesley takes a puckish ludic approach to the figures and storylines she creates Even towards her most engaging central characters heroines for all their limitations She set them loose in their lives
and seeing how the other half lives For those of you who are not familiar with Mary Wesley here s
behave conform wriggle or play fair or foul as they mightAnd as readers we can consider how they go their lives how they act how they treat others without necessarily being fixed in our judgments between one extreme or the other A great advantage of literature is that it is always simulation for example no real person actually gets hurt But also it is experimentation and test Part of Wesley s puckish mischief appears to be to ask Well reader will you be any less harsh less condemning than the often jealous society we see in this novelThere is in Harnessing Peacocks as elsewhere a strong sense of a world without a central guiding principle the devout characters the pillars of society tend to emerge as the greatest hypocrites and exploiters of others in any case and might not follow that principle if it were evident A world without stable reliable niversal meaning That world often appears to buffet the best of them best I mean in terms of fair play honesty however nconventional transgressive of that rarely fair society s norms as well as affecting warm for all *their faults likeable in personality it appears to buffet the best the worst of all as they attempt to build a *faults likeable in personality it appears to buffet the best the worst of all as they attempt to build a of their own to create from considerable chaos some existence of cohesion coherence reliable fixed points and affectionAnd so it is with Hebe To me one of Wesley s most endearing of all characters Another reread I am not sure how many times I have read it now at least three I am not sure why the world and the values described in it are so familiar to me since I am not from England But it all feels like home not always in the nicest way. On of her illegitimate child What follows is at times poignant touching and in the end surprisin. .
To behave conform wriggle or play fair or foul as they mightAnd as readers we can consider how they go
Again Mary Wesley took me into a world that I have little or no knowledge of Hebe the main character is a single mother with a talent for two things cooking and or no knowledge of Hebe the main character is a single mother with a talent for two things cooking and making She manages her life just fine with these two talents keeping her life in order ntil there is an The White Paternoster, And Other Stories unexpectedpset to the balance There is so much spirit and love put into Mary Wesley s characters that you actually wish that you could sit down to coffee with them I will be sure to reread this story again as it was another brilliant slice of life 35 starsGreat Britain before cell phones and computersThis reminded me of the way it feels to be the new kid on the block people to meet connections to figure out roles in the community all the things that slowly sort themselves out given the time to do so For the first several chapters I kept flipping back to remind myself how each person connected with Hebe the star of this story At some point I just gave Laid up and read and by the conclusion everyone and everything fit together nicelyLight reading stress free likable characters and even a little thought provoking Refreshingly frank attitude toward sex and sexualityThe title of the story is first mentioned on p 18 Hebe is the Latin name for Veronica She harnessed peacocksshelved Great Britain I think Mary Wesley is most famous for her book The Camomile Lawn She is an author that is worth trying out if you haven t already This book is not one of her best my favourite to date has been The Vacillations of Poppy Carew but stillite enjoyable She tends to write about the same sort of characters a lot and in this book I didn t find her set of characters as likeable or convincingOne thing I have liked about Mary Wesley s books is that her heroines tend to be The World Rushed in unconventional but maybe this one went a bit too far In this book the heroine Hebe runs away from home as a teenager as she is pregnant and her family wan Can a woman whose family holds a family conference to decide and plan her abortion manage successfully to steal away in the night and run away to make a life for herself and hernborn child It appears so Hebe lives in a Essential Business Networking uiet English village with her son Silas and manages by working as a private chef to a few elderly ladies for a few weeks at a time and a prostitute to select men a group she calls her Syndicate The latter career is of course not a well known fact and most of her clients carefully chosen communicate with her only through letters sent to a Pakistani store With her chosen lifestyle Hebe lives aiet but contented life earning enough for the stiff tuition fees at Silas s private schoolSilas comes home for the holidays but goes off to spend 3 weeks with a friend whose family have invited him on a sailing vacation As Hebe contemplates the change in plans she decides to offer her cooking services to one of her elderly clients for *the time that Silas will be away with his friend Things start to nravel when one of her clients learns that *time that Silas will be away with his friend Things start to nravel when one of her clients learns that is to be at his mother s friend s place a rather shy nephew meets Hebe a stranger meet with Silas and one of her clients becomes her friend Wonderfully humorous with a touch of whimsy follow the life of heberaised by her grandparents after the death of her parents they were considered of higher class when she fell pregnant and refused to name the father they insisted she had an abortion she pped sticks and left since that time she has reinvented herself and given her son silas a chance at private education so he becomes one of them this is funded by occasional cooking jobs and the lucrative syndicate where she sells her body to various men for differing periods of time the latter is obviously done in complete secrecy and none of them have her address or know that she as a son but then he separate strands of the web of her life become entangled and things r never the same again it is this point that i disliked most about the novel it all seemed too far fetched and co incidental to be true great characterisation and tremendous prose the author certainly has a grip on the english language a story of relationships told with warmth and wit 375 stars bev I love Mary Wesley s work it is so easy to read and is always a witty journey with engaging characters I ve read most of her books and I always keep them after because they stand reading again and again This is a case in point this is the second time I ve read this book and it is lovely although it s not as strong as some of her other ones eg Part of the Furniture The Camomile Lawn The story follows Hebe pregnant and hiding in a cupboard listens to her stuffy pper class grandparents with her horsey sisters and their insufferable husbands plotting an abortion for her She runs out into the night Twelve years later she has a wonderful son and a career as a cook to well to do ladies and an pper class prostitute It s a wonderful premise and there are some great moments in the book the problem I had with it was at the end when in a chance meeting with her son s father she just gives it all p to go and live with him Also the reader doe. Mary Wesley creates one of the most enchanting heroines of recent literature in this story of in.