I never did get around to signing up for Margaret Kennedy Day but I did read The Ladies of Lyndon a couple of weeks ago – so, here goes.
The Ladies of Lyndon is Margaret Kennedy’s first novel and it was first published in 1923 but my book is a Vintage Books reprint.
I enjoyed Margaret Kennedy’s writing, in some ways she is a bit of an updated Jane Austen, the surroundings are similar, a large country house and several ladies, mothers and what seem to be unlikely marriages.
Mrs Varden Cocks has one child, a very well brought up daughter called Agatha and as Mrs Cocks believes in early marriages for young women that is exactly what Agatha does. Mrs Cocks is obviously the type who wants to get her daughter ‘safely off her hands’ as quickly as possible. Agatha had previously had a bit of a thing with her cousin Gerald, but it’s the handsome and well off John Clewer that she marries, so becoming the mistress of Lyndon, the large country house.
John has a younger brother called James and he’s very much the black sheep of the family. In fact some of them would like to have him committed to an asylum. James is just different from the rest of them and he is really only interested in painting, something the members of his family just don’t understand.
As you would expect James is unconventional and his choice of wife is very much frowned on too, she’s a housemaid and very much wants to stay exactly as she is, she has no intentions of being something she isn’t, not even when she subsequently ends up being Lady Clewer.
James is far and away the most interesting character in the book but he is really only on the periphery which is a real shame. As I said, I enjoyed this but this is the first book by Margaret Kennedy that I’ve read and I’m sure her writing must have developed and improved as her writing career advanced. I’ll be reading more of her later books anyway.