Would I like Mary Wesley?

I noticed over at Time’s Flow Stemmed this morning that there is a website where you can plug in an author’s name and it will map out other authors who are similar. The closer together two authors are, the more similar they are–supposedly. I first put in Margaret Atwood, it had pretty much every big Canadian author you can think of (Laurence, Davies, Findley, Shields, Hoffman, etc.) which I found kind of dubious.  But then I noticed Margaret Drabble (an author I quite like) and clicked on her which took me to a map centered around Drabble. From there I clicked on Anita Brookner. While I like many of the authors who showed up closest to Brookner I couldn’t particularly figure out what their similarities might be. But that may be my fault, after all if a bunch of my favorite authors show up in a clump they must have something in common. Although I kind of fear that ‘English lady’ might be the common denominator.

One of the closest names to Brookner was Mary Wesley–a novelist I have never heard of. So I go look up Mary Wesley and her work sounds pretty interesting. I noted that one of her hits is The Camomile Lawn–which, oddly enough I just noticed the other day on Netflix as a film adaptation Felicity Kendall. How cool is that.

But the real question is, given what you know about my reading tastes, will I like Mary Wesley? And as for that matter, Anthony Powell was real close to Brookner as well. What would I think of him?

22 thoughts on “Would I like Mary Wesley?

  1. verity June 22, 2011 / 9:54 am

    Yes! Think you would like Mary Wesley and the Camomile Lawn is a great place to start :)


  2. Daniel-Halifax June 22, 2011 / 10:28 am

    I just did the literature map and found some interesting new authors (among some weird ones-murder mystery…related to Beverley Nichols?). I think you'll love Anthony Powell…it's hard not to fall in love with his characters.


  3. reviewsbylola June 22, 2011 / 10:30 am

    I am not familiar with Mary Wesley either but I love that cover, which is enough reason for me to check her out further!


  4. reviewsbylola June 22, 2011 / 10:30 am

    I am not familiar with Mary Wesley either but I love that cover, which is enough reason for me to check her out further!


  5. Frances June 22, 2011 / 10:37 am

    Not familiar with this author either but am about to “borrow” your “Would I like…?” idea and Anthony's link and hopefully set others to doing the same.


  6. Laura June 22, 2011 / 11:05 am

    I don't know about Mary Wesley, but I think you'd really like Anthony Powell. I've read half of his A Dance to the Music of Time series (2 volumes of 3 novellas each). They are very Brideshead-ish. If you'd like to learn more, check out my reviews:

    First Movement
    Second Movement


  7. Michelle Ann June 22, 2011 / 12:21 pm

    I think your search did very well. Both of these are erudite authors who write of life in England before, during and after the war, and are worth checking out. The Camomile Lawn is Wesley's best novel. I liked but didn't love them, but I would say the same of Anita Brookner, so they may be right up your street!


  8. Danielle June 22, 2011 / 1:35 pm

    I love Mary Wesley and suspect if you like Anita Brookner, you would like her as well (though though they are not exactly alike–and just as well). The Camomile Lawn is one of my favorites of her books–but I've liked everything I've read by her. Am supposed to be reading Anthony Powell this year and was very much enjoying the first book but have been temporarily distracted.


  9. Audrey June 22, 2011 / 2:40 pm

    I do! (And I agree that The Camomile Lawn was wonderful.}


  10. Anthony June 22, 2011 / 3:36 pm

    Anthony Powell's Dance series is compelling, not quite Proust but a delicious insight into a fascinating period.


  11. Cornflower June 22, 2011 / 3:41 pm

    I'm keen on all three of those writers, so I'd say you should certainly try Wesley and Powell.


  12. Karen K. June 22, 2011 / 5:38 pm

    I would say yes. I've read most of her novels but it's been several years, so I can't remember which ones I liked best. I really must check out that author website!


  13. winstonsdad June 22, 2011 / 6:16 pm

    I ve read first two from dance toi music of time and loved them have six more from series on shelves to read ,heard mary wesley not read her canomille lawn was a tv series here in uk I watched that and it was quite good


  14. tuulenhaiven June 22, 2011 / 7:53 pm

    I read Second Fiddle by Mary Wesley during a read-a-thon, and it was my favorite book of the day. I remember it being funny and thoughtful. As a writer she's pretty cool – she didn't start writing until she was in her 70s I believe!


  15. GirlsWannaRead June 22, 2011 / 10:49 pm

    I have read The Camomile Lawn and seen the series. Both are wonderful! I've also wanted to read Anthony Powell for quite a while but haven't been able to get my hands on the first movement.


  16. lyn June 23, 2011 / 5:47 am

    I think you would like Wesley, Thomas. She didn't start publishing until she was almost 70 &her books are very funny & very frank about morals & manners. Cammomile Lawn is excellent & I also enjoyed The Vacillations of Poppy Carew, Harnessing Peacocks, An Imaginative Experience & Part of the Furniture. Cammomile Lawn has autobiographical elements in it & the TV series is excellent. Lots of well-known English actors at the start of their careers including Jennifer Ehle (whose mother plays her older self in the series) & Tara Fitzgerald.


  17. StuckInABook June 23, 2011 / 6:43 am

    I watched the series – featuring not only Felicity Kendal, but Paul Eddington and Jennifer Ehle – so exciting! It was quite good, although it didn't convince me that I'd want to read the book…


  18. StuckInABook June 23, 2011 / 6:47 am

    Oh gosh, just went to the website, and it's horrible! All those moving images… plus I put in Barbara Comyns and didn't agree with any of their choices.


  19. Thomas at My Porch June 23, 2011 / 1:24 pm

    Verity: Good to know.

    Daniel: The literature map is a little odd in its results.

    Lola: It is a provocative cover.

    Frances: I hope you start a trend.

    Laura: Duh. I knew that Powell sounded familiar. How could I not remember that name. I have the complete Dance to the Music of Time series on my shelves just waiting to be read.

    Michelle Ann: It's just nice to have a new author to look into. Sometimes I feel like have heard of everyone.

    Danielle and Audrey: I think I will have to start with The Camomile Lawn.

    Anthony: Oh, I wimped out on Proust, hopefully that won't happen with Powell.

    Cornflower: It will be interesting to see how they all compare.

    Karen K: Why have I never heard of her.

    Stu: I will have to read it before I watch it.

    Tuulenhaiven: That is good to know that her writing stood out.

    Girls: Turns out I have all four movements.

    Lyn: Vacillations of Poppy Carew, now that is a title.

    Simon: The results are a little crazy. I put in one name (I forget who) and it kept giving me results for David Baldacci.


  20. Gardener in the Distance June 23, 2011 / 4:44 pm

    Thomas, the 1992 television series was shown here in Australia and was absolutely wonderful…see it if you can.


  21. Jill June 27, 2011 / 2:52 am

    Knowing your anglophilia Thomas I am sure that you would like Mary Wesley's books. Her biography Wild Mary by Patrick Markham is a must also. She really did lead a wild and eccentric life and many parts of her books are autobiographical apparently. Yes the filmed version of The Camomile Lawn was wonderful, as was the mini-series of Dance to the Music of Time. Widmerpool is one of literature's memorable nasty characters.


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