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The Harvey sisters are unconventional, unschooled and oddly named. They have been brought up at quite some distance from the rest of the world. Living with their famous detective writer father, and their fragile mother, they have been one another’s friends – with hardly any experience of people outside their family.


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The Harvey sisters are unconventional, unschooled and oddly named. They have been brought up at quite some distance from the rest of the world. Living with their famous detective writer father, and their fragile mother, they have been one another’s friends – with hardly any experience of people outside their family.

30 review for Guard Your Daughters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    I loved spending time with these sisters, they were so entertaining, their characters interesting and all so different. The writing has a great sense of humour, the relationships are so well observed. The story is narrated by Morgan, and begins shortly after her sister Pandora escapes home to begin married life. Although mummy is controlling to the extreme, their family life and the relationships between the sisters are lovely, so close but not without usual sibling problems. If only mummy could I loved spending time with these sisters, they were so entertaining, their characters interesting and all so different. The writing has a great sense of humour, the relationships are so well observed. The story is narrated by Morgan, and begins shortly after her sister Pandora escapes home to begin married life. Although mummy is controlling to the extreme, their family life and the relationships between the sisters are lovely, so close but not without usual sibling problems. If only mummy could get over whatever the problem was this could have been a really nice place to grow up. The first half of the book was stronger I felt, I hugely enjoyed the girls adventures but the hints towards what mummy's problem really was, made me think (view spoiler)[ it was much more dramatic than it turned out to be, a genetic problem or some dark family secret rather than just mummy was an extreme worrier and used to getting her way (hide spoiler)] however the rest was just so good it didn't affect my enjoyment that I found the plot a slight anticlimax.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Idarah

    "I'm very fond of my new friends, but I do get angry when they tell me how dull my life must have been before I came to London. We were queer, I suppose, and restricted, and we used to fret and grumble, but the one thing our sort of family doesn't suffer from is boredom." —Morgan So Morgan Harvey sets about describing the idyllic life of her family of five sisters in the English countryside. Dad's an author, and Mom's a sensitive beauty who everyone handles with kid gloves. Everything seems m "I'm very fond of my new friends, but I do get angry when they tell me how dull my life must have been before I came to London. We were queer, I suppose, and restricted, and we used to fret and grumble, but the one thing our sort of family doesn't suffer from is boredom." —Morgan So Morgan Harvey sets about describing the idyllic life of her family of five sisters in the English countryside. Dad's an author, and Mom's a sensitive beauty who everyone handles with kid gloves. Everything seems much like it's been plucked from Pride and Prejudice, as the girls are at turns reserved, spunky, and opinionated. However, when the eldest of the Miss Harveys marries, she realizes just how odd and secluded her family really is, and attempts to stir things so that the girls (who are of marriageable age) get out to meet future husbands and make friends, like normal people do. The repercussions are both hilarious and a bit sad. Hmm. This reminded me of so many good books I've read. I love reading about the insular lives of a household, especially sisters that are close in age. It's why I love Little Women, The Makioka Sisters, Pride and Prejudice, and I Capture the Castle. Also why I know I'll love Nancy Mitford when I finally read her! I might also add, that it's what fascinated me about The Virgin Suicides, but also left me frustrated. I feel like had Eugenides included the reader in the lives of that set of sisters, I would have been more inclined to love it. There's one particular bathroom scene that just warmed my heart. All the sisters are reunited, including the recently married, Pandora, and as they prepare for bed, they all take turns drawing baths, brushing their teeth, combing their hair, and catching up on each other's lives in a much practiced routine. It was such a sweet scene. I was prompted to draw a bath for myself afterwards, which I haven't done in ages, as I much prefer a shower. I wish I could jump into another book in this same thread...and if it's set in the 50s, like this one was, even better! So after a little research, I was referred to The Constant Nymph, which I will definitely be purchasing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    At first I didn't entirely warm to this 1953 novel about an eccentric family of five sisters living a bizarrely secluded life in rural England, because it seemed to be too much a pale imitation of I Capture the Castle. Halfway through, though I was loving it. Towards the end, I was in a state where I was enjoying it to a degree that I kept feeling a tremendous urge to go on goodreads and read everyone else's reviews and share the happy enthusiasm, but then had to slap my own hands away from the At first I didn't entirely warm to this 1953 novel about an eccentric family of five sisters living a bizarrely secluded life in rural England, because it seemed to be too much a pale imitation of I Capture the Castle. Halfway through, though I was loving it. Towards the end, I was in a state where I was enjoying it to a degree that I kept feeling a tremendous urge to go on goodreads and read everyone else's reviews and share the happy enthusiasm, but then had to slap my own hands away from the keyboard because so often that way lie spoilers. It's fairly clear what's going to happen at the end from the first sentence, but one doesn't know how. The sisters, in their different ways, are entertaining company, and the dark undercurrent gives the book some ballast. One I'm sure I'll be reading again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A 1950's novel about four sisters ( a fifth recently escaped by marrying) who live in the country with their parents. They believe themselves to be zany and bohemian and throughout the story there are some very funny descriptions of their life together. Their father is a successful detective writer and their mother is more or less a recluse who forbids her daughters going to school and making new friends. Unsuspected at first, there is darker side to this novel which brings the story together at th A 1950's novel about four sisters ( a fifth recently escaped by marrying) who live in the country with their parents. They believe themselves to be zany and bohemian and throughout the story there are some very funny descriptions of their life together. Their father is a successful detective writer and their mother is more or less a recluse who forbids her daughters going to school and making new friends. Unsuspected at first, there is darker side to this novel which brings the story together at the end. All the sisters have quirky characters ,which i loved and will remember. Another great book republished by Persephone Books

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    The Harvey sisters are unconventional, unschooled and oddly named they have been brought up at quite some distance from the rest of the world. Living with their famous detective writer father, and their fragile mother, they have been one another’s friends – with hardly any experience of people outside their family. Pandora the eldest has recently married and moved away to London – and this change seems to highlight for the sisters the peculiarity of their lives. Our narrator is Morgan, the ninet The Harvey sisters are unconventional, unschooled and oddly named they have been brought up at quite some distance from the rest of the world. Living with their famous detective writer father, and their fragile mother, they have been one another’s friends – with hardly any experience of people outside their family. Pandora the eldest has recently married and moved away to London – and this change seems to highlight for the sisters the peculiarity of their lives. Our narrator is Morgan, the nineteen year old middle sister, a pianist with a keen imagination. The eldest of the sisters still at home, and next in age to Pandora, is Thisbe, a beautiful and sharply tongued poet. A year younger than Morgan, is eighteen year old Cressida, sensible and domesticated, she seems most keenly aware of the oddities in the Harvey’s existence. The youngest sister is fifteen year old Teresa, romantic and dreamy she is very much the baby of the family. Coming back to visit her family after her marriage, Pandora fears for her sisters – fears they won’t be able to marry or have lives of their own. Her removal from the family has increased her unease of the way the sisters have been brought up. “I sighed. I knew where this was heading. Pandora had decided in her own gentle and inexorable way that poor Teresa ought to be at school. It was shame, I thought. I said: “Dearest, being married is making you very conventional. You never used to worry about our education.” “I didn’t realise quite what anachronisms we all were. It’s so extraordinary that you all submit to this – this captivity.” “But we’re all frightfully happy,” I said. “I can’t see that it matters. Have you talked to Thisbe like this?” “Yes last night. She came back into my bedroom. She agrees.” With their parents existing very much in the background, the five sisters have made their own entertainment and learnt to look after themselves and one another really very well. Their father divides his time between his writing and his wife, who he dances attendance upon constantly ensuring she is not upset. This fragile absent mother is a strange character, at first she appears merely cosseted and spoilt, her husband and daughters adoring her without question. The sisters have been sheltered from the world to a ridiculous degree, but when two seemingly eligible young men come into the sisters lives; their lack of social experience becomes obvious. However there are darker undercurrents to this unconventional household. Throughout this novel, woven into the humorous and charming story of the relationship between five sisters – there is a definite shadow. For me there was always something unexplained, remaining unspoken till the end. This element is brilliantly done, well plotted it adds something quite special to what could have been a fairly ordinary story. Yet the story is not ordinary, it’s heart-warming, funny and memorable, and the final twist utterly brilliant. Guard Your Daughters is in many ways very like Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle – a book which I have read twice, loved, and which continues to enjoy huge popularity. Diana Tutton’s first novel was published just a few years after I Capture the Castle, and in it, she appears to refer to the earlier novel in a scene about dressing for a cocktail party at the house of the local gentry. I think that Guard your Daughters is every bit as good as I capture the Castle and it is very surprising to me that it remains out of print. It is understandable that there are comparisons made between the two novels, Guard your Daughters has a similar feel to I Capture the Castle, it is a heart-warming nostalgic type novel. It is certainly the type of novel I can imagine re-reading, wanting to meet those sisters again and again. I do think, however, that Guard your Daughters has something more serious to say than I Capture the Castle. Tutton understands her characters beautifully; the gradual unravelling of the past and the motivations and consequences of the Harvey parents is possibly what sets it apart. I am so very glad I have had a chance to read this novel, and must thank Kerry from librarything again, for sending it to me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    A charming (with some rather dark undertones) novel of an interesting family. There are 5 daughters, all very different, Thisbe is the Poet, Morgan, our narrator, a musician with quite an imagination, Cressida is the conventional one and Teresa, the youngest, is the romantic one with her head in a book. The last one, Pandora has got married and moved out. Their father is a very successful detective novelist and their mother is seen as delicate and very protective of her daughters, wanting to kee A charming (with some rather dark undertones) novel of an interesting family. There are 5 daughters, all very different, Thisbe is the Poet, Morgan, our narrator, a musician with quite an imagination, Cressida is the conventional one and Teresa, the youngest, is the romantic one with her head in a book. The last one, Pandora has got married and moved out. Their father is a very successful detective novelist and their mother is seen as delicate and very protective of her daughters, wanting to keep them close and keep outsiders away from them. They live an unconventional life and have very little contact with the outside world. This starts to change slowly with the arrival of a stranger in the first chapter and with a visit from Pandora. Once the family is seen through their eyes, the sisters start to realise just how odd their family really is. Ostensibly, this is a fairly frothy comedy, but towards the end it gets somewhat darker and has a bittersweet ending. I loved reading about the family and watching them try to break out a bit, without upsetting their Mother too much. I'm sure I will revisit them many times.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    The five Harvey sisters (or four, now that the eldest is married) live an isolated life with their well-known writer father and their beloved sensitive mother in the English countryside. They have a lot of freedom in some ways--they can read whatever they like and discuss any topic, however 'shocking'--but they don't get to have friends or go to school or have any kind of life outside the family. The book starts off very light and funny, with nods to 'Pride and Prejudice' and the Mitford sisters, The five Harvey sisters (or four, now that the eldest is married) live an isolated life with their well-known writer father and their beloved sensitive mother in the English countryside. They have a lot of freedom in some ways--they can read whatever they like and discuss any topic, however 'shocking'--but they don't get to have friends or go to school or have any kind of life outside the family. The book starts off very light and funny, with nods to 'Pride and Prejudice' and the Mitford sisters, but slowly develops into something much darker. Not just in relation to the parents--all the family members seem to have a troubled underside that comes out slowly. For example I loved the narrator, Morgan, the middle sister, at first, but as she started to come out of that little family bubble I realised how snobbish and judgmental she was. I'm not sure if this was intended or if it's just the view from 65 years later. Either way it works as part of a story that brings out the way that we take our family dynamics for granted as children but start to question them, sometimes with a shock, as we grow up. But for this family it happens later than most.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lady Drinkwell

    What could be better than a book about an eccentric literary family living in a ramshackle house in the country? I loved this book but as I read it I realized that this family of girls were no Little Women.. nobody was going to help poor villagers and this "marmee" wasnt even going to invite the neighbours round for tea. This book has a bitter twist of lemon in it. The girls are snobs, but snobs in a very small society, consisting just of their own family... so they look down on almost everyone What could be better than a book about an eccentric literary family living in a ramshackle house in the country? I loved this book but as I read it I realized that this family of girls were no Little Women.. nobody was going to help poor villagers and this "marmee" wasnt even going to invite the neighbours round for tea. This book has a bitter twist of lemon in it. The girls are snobs, but snobs in a very small society, consisting just of their own family... so they look down on almost everyone who is not exactly like them.. and consider themselves to be extraordinary.. There is an interesting scene where they are at a party and are surprised nobody is paying them any attention.. and wonder if they really are outstanding after all. Although the family did irritate me I personally think that Diane Tutton was being very clever when she wrote this book, she doesn't want us to like this family but to understand them. Guard your Daughters has the air of being a jolly romp like Capture the Castle, but actually there is a dark tinge of psychological drama in it. It is a very thought provoking read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Yes, the story took a hard left turn at the very end, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment of all that came before. And that ending made what had been a light read much more thought-provoking. Still mulling it over... Yes, the story took a hard left turn at the very end, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment of all that came before. And that ending made what had been a light read much more thought-provoking. Still mulling it over...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary Atwell

    A gentle, bittersweet and very English coming-of-age novel narrated in the slightly arch and dotty style of Nancy Mitford and Dodie Smith. A lost world. Lovely.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lady Shockley

    Having read about this novel in advance of Persephone Press' reprinting, I was very much looking forward to reading it. Having devoured it upon its arrival on my doorstep, I must say, it lives up to its reputation. It was a delight. On the surface, Guard Your Dughters concerns the Harvey family, and its five daughters. Brought up "eccentrically" - without a telephone, car, or refrigerator, and without attending school -in 1950s England, the Harvey girls enjoy their secluded circumstances and surr Having read about this novel in advance of Persephone Press' reprinting, I was very much looking forward to reading it. Having devoured it upon its arrival on my doorstep, I must say, it lives up to its reputation. It was a delight. On the surface, Guard Your Dughters concerns the Harvey family, and its five daughters. Brought up "eccentrically" - without a telephone, car, or refrigerator, and without attending school -in 1950s England, the Harvey girls enjoy their secluded circumstances and surroundings with an enthusiasm that borders on glee at times. Being exceedingly well- read, their banter and conversation are littered with literary references and quotations, which is especially fun for readers. Beneath the the quips, cooking, and fresh air and exercise though, lurks an unspoken fear that affects almost every decision the young ladies make. It drives them to unusual lengths, including outright manipulation and social exclusion and avoidance, in order to keep things calm on the surface. All told, it was a wonderful read, with flashing wit and energy. Knowing the underlying ills, it certainly calls for a second read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mack

    One of the things I love about reading, especially books written in the previous century is seeing just how much times have changed. Not a lot happens, daily business of living, the Harvey family live in self-imposed exile, leading an eccentric life, close knit and seemingly well adjusted. I enjoyed this book but I loved and hated the five daughters. The Mothers delicate condition (only one fire lit in a draughty house and it is in her room) and it seemed she got upset at any attempt at independ One of the things I love about reading, especially books written in the previous century is seeing just how much times have changed. Not a lot happens, daily business of living, the Harvey family live in self-imposed exile, leading an eccentric life, close knit and seemingly well adjusted. I enjoyed this book but I loved and hated the five daughters. The Mothers delicate condition (only one fire lit in a draughty house and it is in her room) and it seemed she got upset at any attempt at independence of the part of her daughters who had never been to school or formed friendships. It had a dark edge, lighthearted but murky. Frequent humourous situations that did make me smile.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Moore

    4.5- Guard Your Daughters was originally published in 1953. I was immediately smitten with the five sisters living in a remote cottage in rural England. Each one is unique in their own way but all share creativity and a smart wit. It's a coming of age story as the sisters begin to realize that their idyllic home has a dark underlying secret. I saw some resemblance to I Capture the Castle, which is one of my favorites. I enjoyed Tutton's novel thoroughly and I highly recommend it! 4.5- Guard Your Daughters was originally published in 1953. I was immediately smitten with the five sisters living in a remote cottage in rural England. Each one is unique in their own way but all share creativity and a smart wit. It's a coming of age story as the sisters begin to realize that their idyllic home has a dark underlying secret. I saw some resemblance to I Capture the Castle, which is one of my favorites. I enjoyed Tutton's novel thoroughly and I highly recommend it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mirte

    Another classic Persephone - light and breezy on the surface, but much deeper and darker than initially expected. I didn't think it as good as, for example, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or I Capture the Castle, which it is compared to, but nonetheless a worthwhile read. The girls straddle an uneasy desire to fit in as well as a pride in their eccentricity, which causes odd situations that are at times painfully awkward and uneasy to read about. The family bond, however, is a joy. The varying re Another classic Persephone - light and breezy on the surface, but much deeper and darker than initially expected. I didn't think it as good as, for example, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or I Capture the Castle, which it is compared to, but nonetheless a worthwhile read. The girls straddle an uneasy desire to fit in as well as a pride in their eccentricity, which causes odd situations that are at times painfully awkward and uneasy to read about. The family bond, however, is a joy. The varying relationships, the intimate knowledge of eachother's character and the ultimate acceptance of every girl's personality, the small yet connecting activities the girls do - all were very recognisable for me, coming from a family of four children. The story itself is not that eventful, but the relationships and wonder of the main character do give enough body to it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Guard Your Daughters is a charming book. Like the family it depicts, it is intelligent, witty and full of laugh out loud moments. But...something isn’t right in the Harvey household. Not that anyone wants to acknowledge it. At least, not out loud. But it’s there, like that lingering smell, unique to every home, that is imperceptible to the occupants except when returning after a short absence. This is family life for the Harveys; father, mother and five daughters. Talented and spirited, but isol Guard Your Daughters is a charming book. Like the family it depicts, it is intelligent, witty and full of laugh out loud moments. But...something isn’t right in the Harvey household. Not that anyone wants to acknowledge it. At least, not out loud. But it’s there, like that lingering smell, unique to every home, that is imperceptible to the occupants except when returning after a short absence. This is family life for the Harveys; father, mother and five daughters. Talented and spirited, but isolated socially and geographically. Each of the Harvey girls finds their own way of navigating what they know to be an unsustainable way of life, alternately scorning and rejoicing in the necessary idiosyncrasies that make it bearable. But they know that they’re paying a high price for their acquiescence. It’s Little Women meets Fanny by Gaslight. Can we hope that eventually they will lose their fear of the storms and learn to sail their own ship?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Paddon

    This is the first Persephone published book that I haven't "thoroughly" enjoyed. It begins with introducing the five slightly batty, living in the past, jolly hockey sticks sisters, and their unusual parents in the vein of I Capture the Castle but that's where the similarity ends. Morgan, the middle sister, narrates, but very objectively with little opinion or view; the other girls with the exception of the sweet eldest, Pandora (think Jane Bennett after her nuptials to Mr Bingley), are stuck in This is the first Persephone published book that I haven't "thoroughly" enjoyed. It begins with introducing the five slightly batty, living in the past, jolly hockey sticks sisters, and their unusual parents in the vein of I Capture the Castle but that's where the similarity ends. Morgan, the middle sister, narrates, but very objectively with little opinion or view; the other girls with the exception of the sweet eldest, Pandora (think Jane Bennett after her nuptials to Mr Bingley), are stuck in a time warp under their protective and controlling parents, whom they call "darling". There are some small romantic opportunities for the girls but these are not explored, and the main theme running through the book is how they, and their slightly wet father, relate to, and take care of, "Mother". Did Mother, like Aunt Ada Doom, see something nasty in the woodshed? We never really find out, but there is explanation of sorts right at the end, and we do read something of what the future holds for the sisters. The conclusion doesn't quite make up for wanting to find out something more about this faintly dysfunctional family. But, heck, it's a Persephone so it's always going to be readable.

  17. 4 out of 5

    G.G.

    Many thanks to https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2... for giving me a copy of this utterly delightful novel. I'd never even heard of the author before. Morgan Harvey, aged nineteen, is the middle sister of five and the narrator of the story. She begins at the end: I'm very fond of my new friends, but I do get angry when they tell me how dull my life must have been before I came to London. We were queer, I suppose, and restricted, and we used to fret and grumble, but the one thing our sort of fa Many thanks to https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2... for giving me a copy of this utterly delightful novel. I'd never even heard of the author before. Morgan Harvey, aged nineteen, is the middle sister of five and the narrator of the story. She begins at the end: I'm very fond of my new friends, but I do get angry when they tell me how dull my life must have been before I came to London. We were queer, I suppose, and restricted, and we used to fret and grumble, but the one thing our sort of family doesn't suffer from is boredom. (p.1) And indeed, just as Morgan promises, there isn't a dull moment in the novel, which is about the end of childhood and parents' fall from grace. The action is set in post-WWII England, when rationing is still in force, central heating is a luxury, and an eccentric family like this one might decide to have the telephone taken away because "it worried Mother." The five sisters have been educated at home: as sister no. 2 explains to an unexpected guest, "None of us ever went to any sort of school. We regard them as sinks of ignorance and unnatural vice."(p.9) Between taking it in turns to make breakfast, lunch, and tea, they write poetry, play the piano, discuss books, rehearse a play to be performed on Mother's birthday, and try, with varying degrees of success, to persuade their peculiar parents to allow them to accept invitations to cocktail parties and have young men for tea. The outside world is encroaching on paradise, and the author maintains a fine tension between the story Morgan tells and the reader's growing sense that there is much Morgan does not realize, that things cannot go on as they are. The denouement when it comes is surprising but quite believable. As other reviewers have noted, there's a touch of The Pursuit Of Love here, and I Capture the Castle too. What makes Tutton different is her attention to the way that one parent's love for the other can (nearly) wreck children's lives, and the passionate devotion of such children to their flawed parents. Definitely worth seeking out a copy and reading!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alisha

    Piquant but ultimately rather unsatisfying. Set in the 1950s, I believe. There are five daughters in the Harvey family. The eldest is recently married; the remaining four are unsure of what life holds for them. All they know is that their activities and friendships are severely curtailed by their parents, particularly their mother. They've grown up with this and are fairly content with it. Their parents encourage them in semi-intellectual pursuits, which helps them feel like they are happy. They a Piquant but ultimately rather unsatisfying. Set in the 1950s, I believe. There are five daughters in the Harvey family. The eldest is recently married; the remaining four are unsure of what life holds for them. All they know is that their activities and friendships are severely curtailed by their parents, particularly their mother. They've grown up with this and are fairly content with it. Their parents encourage them in semi-intellectual pursuits, which helps them feel like they are happy. They all more or less recognize that they're not a "normal" family, but they willfully ignore exploring why, until it is forced upon them. Also mysterious to them is why their eldest sister was allowed to get married, when so much of the family life is centered around staying at home and never, ever rocking the boat. Only a limited amount of resolution at the end. Rather interesting characters, but kind of a cold book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Catie

    Recommendation by Furrowed Middlebrow - 10/5/2016 ROMILLY CAVAN, Beneath the Visiting Moon (1940) https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/furro... Recommendation by Furrowed Middlebrow - 10/5/2016 ROMILLY CAVAN, Beneath the Visiting Moon (1940) https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/furro...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren LaTulip

    Superficially the story of an upper middle class family of eccentrics surviving post-war deprivations, this tale of five sisters morphs grows into something Gothic and disturbing. I thought it would be a funny fluffy book, dated, but it is a dark and insightful period piece.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    Absolutely loved this novel. It reminded me in a way of I Capture the Castle and its unusual family. Ah, my feelings! I laughed, I was sad and happy, you just get everything. The girls are all so special in their own way, you just want to be one of them!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kiely

    “There were wonderful things ahead, and I would not look back or regret what was gone.” this was absolutely one of the best books i've read this year. i had heard about this novel many years ago, right before Persephone Books had announced that they would republish it, and i read that it was practically a knockoff of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, one of my favorites. i kept this book in my head until i went to London in March 2019, and very soon after went to the lovely little Persephone Bookshop to bu “There were wonderful things ahead, and I would not look back or regret what was gone.” this was absolutely one of the best books i've read this year. i had heard about this novel many years ago, right before Persephone Books had announced that they would republish it, and i read that it was practically a knockoff of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, one of my favorites. i kept this book in my head until i went to London in March 2019, and very soon after went to the lovely little Persephone Bookshop to buy it. :) this week, full of stress about the US Election and everything else chaotic happening in my life, i finally picked up my beautiful and smooth gray-covered copy. this book is really very special, but at the same time, it follows closely in the footsteps of women's literature that had came before it. the brood of five daughters reminded me of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE; the story of secluded sisters reminded me of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, as previously stated. however, the daughters don't live in a very secluded area, like the castle in ICTC, but instead in a small British village; the daughters aren't trying to be actively married off, as in P&P, but are instead kept in their house and away from any possible friends or lovers because of their mother's vague "madness" and their fear of getting her upset and triggering another one of her "episodes." the narrator, and the middle child in this family, Morgan, is a lovely character with a very witty internal monologue that i loved reading. all of her sisters are very interesting, and the scrapes & problems that they get in to are very funny and charming; but, there is always a ribbon of vague menace running through the story, and i was constantly questioning why the sisters couldn't leave their village, and why their mother was so insistent on keeping them "safe." well, in the end we find out that it was all a manipulation from their mother; she was never actually "mad," but let people assume that she was, in order to keep her daughters near her. i'd actually argue that this manipulation signals that the mother has some sort of other mental disorder, or personality disorder, because she was not a good mother, anyway, even if she /was/ trying to keep her daughters safe; a reasonable goal, i guess, but not very realistic. the end of the book reminded me a lot of the own reckoning i went through a few years back, and am still going through, to discover how i've become the person i am because of how my parents raised me; and, sometimes, parents make mistakes, and mess up their children, and that's it. Morgan's disillusionment with her mother and her realization at the end that her mother was never the person she thought she was is painful to read, but also freeing, as Morgan ends the book preparing to live in London with her sister and finally have some of the independence she craved. sometimes we get so used to a lesser way of living that we think it's normal, or what we deserve, when that is just not true. Morgan's story was fun but also very dark, and i loved the interplay of the two moods. she ends the story with the quote i started this review with, not regretting any of what had come before and in turn looking to the future with bright and hopeful eyes. at the end of this chaotic year, we can all take some tips from her, i think.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary Teresa

    A good story, great writing, entertaining descriptions and dialogue sparkled. I loved the sisters' interractions with each other - except for calling each other 'darling' all the time - very annoying - and their reactions to people from the outside. Laughed out loud when Thisbe and Morgan were at a cocktail party and feeling very awkward not knowing anybody, and Morgan remarking that it was good they didn't look alike because nobody would know they were having to talk to their sister. The story A good story, great writing, entertaining descriptions and dialogue sparkled. I loved the sisters' interractions with each other - except for calling each other 'darling' all the time - very annoying - and their reactions to people from the outside. Laughed out loud when Thisbe and Morgan were at a cocktail party and feeling very awkward not knowing anybody, and Morgan remarking that it was good they didn't look alike because nobody would know they were having to talk to their sister. The story of course, is of maternal possessiveness and selfish manipulation, and how their father - a writer also apart from the world - went along with it out of concern for his delicate wife until - but no plot spoilers. The last few chapters are page-turners. The eldest daughter, Pandora, has married and moved away. There's more to her escape than meets the eye in the beginning. They are a bit snobbish these young ladies, and their attitude to the poor Daily Help, mimicking her accent to make up a language of their own, is horrid, but young people do these mean, thoughtless things. No worse, perhaps, than secretly mocking a school teacher, if they had been at school. Though Thisbe, Morgan, Cressida and Teresa were not allowed to go out socially, they contrive to meet new people on their own, and make the best of any young man who happens upon their way. This leads to a few funny situations as they hope to get him past their ever-vigilant Father, who, though loving, fails to see the social needs of his growing daughters, and the growing desperation of one in particular. Also, for those who like to read books set in a different time, there's the little revelations - if the girls were gardening, they'd roll down their stockings to their ankles so as not to get a run in them. I love these odd, random bits of information...Persephone books are a treasure for that, real Julian Fellowes sort of everyday detail.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I picked up this beautiful looking book in an antique shop. When I first started reading it, I wasn't sure if I liked. The five sisters, who are the main characters in the novel, all had ridiculous names and their ridiculously posh lives in their solitary home in the English countryside was very far removed from my own grandparents lives in 1950s England. As a modern woman, I found the protagonist's desperation to find and cling onto a potential romantic partner cringy, as if that was the main a I picked up this beautiful looking book in an antique shop. When I first started reading it, I wasn't sure if I liked. The five sisters, who are the main characters in the novel, all had ridiculous names and their ridiculously posh lives in their solitary home in the English countryside was very far removed from my own grandparents lives in 1950s England. As a modern woman, I found the protagonist's desperation to find and cling onto a potential romantic partner cringy, as if that was the main aspiration for a young woman. However, as I continued reading the book, I realised that the sisters were actually rather modern women for their society. They made sure that they could catch attention from men, disregarding the more submissive role that society at that time wanted women to play. They were also very aware of their own talents and knew that in post-war Britain they could make a career out of their passions, and that they weren't limited to being a housewife. The novel even touches the very current topic of mental health and doesn't vilify their mother as a 'crazy hysterical woman' which I can imagine to have been ground-breaking when it was first published.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Ngobi

    A charming enjoyable book set in the 1950's. The opening paragraph of Chapter 1 says it all ".. We were queer, I suppose, and restricted, and we used to fret and grumble, but the one thing our sort of family doesn't suffer from is boredom". If one is looking for happy escapism this book offers just that. You enjoy the day to day life of this family of 5 daughters with the most unusual names and who, to their credit, are intelligent, well read and have talents despite no schooling and integration A charming enjoyable book set in the 1950's. The opening paragraph of Chapter 1 says it all ".. We were queer, I suppose, and restricted, and we used to fret and grumble, but the one thing our sort of family doesn't suffer from is boredom". If one is looking for happy escapism this book offers just that. You enjoy the day to day life of this family of 5 daughters with the most unusual names and who, to their credit, are intelligent, well read and have talents despite no schooling and integration with society. Even the mothers eccentricity which suggested dark undertones came to nought in the end - I have to say I expected the reveal of something deeper and more sinister than a mother who selfishly wanted to keep her children and family to herself and was through the years enabled through manipulation on her part to get away with it!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    There's no eccentric like an English eccentric. The 5 daughters of a successful novelist live very much shut up in their own world together because their invalided mother can't stand for them to go anywhere or meet anyone or do anything that might take them away from her. Cooped in and left to their own devices, their creativity and wit and exuberance bursts forth in a constant bright stream. They worship their delicate mother and long to spare her pain, only they do really, really all want to m There's no eccentric like an English eccentric. The 5 daughters of a successful novelist live very much shut up in their own world together because their invalided mother can't stand for them to go anywhere or meet anyone or do anything that might take them away from her. Cooped in and left to their own devices, their creativity and wit and exuberance bursts forth in a constant bright stream. They worship their delicate mother and long to spare her pain, only they do really, really all want to meet young men. And in that desire is where the unraveling of this dysfunctional situation begins. The book reminded me of Nancy Mitford's books and also of "I Capture the Castle." Really very enjoyable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Pity these poor adolescent sisters in post-war England: their prospects are blighted not only by their class and era, but by a monster of a mother whose husband has allowed her to nurture her anxieties until she's grown an impenetrable bower - like Sleeping Beauty's - around her girls. Still, they manage to learn, to enjoy themselves, and even to meet a few young men. In the end, they prevail and their dragon mother is stripped of her power. Tutton writes well and has a terrific ear for conversa Pity these poor adolescent sisters in post-war England: their prospects are blighted not only by their class and era, but by a monster of a mother whose husband has allowed her to nurture her anxieties until she's grown an impenetrable bower - like Sleeping Beauty's - around her girls. Still, they manage to learn, to enjoy themselves, and even to meet a few young men. In the end, they prevail and their dragon mother is stripped of her power. Tutton writes well and has a terrific ear for conversation. If you enjoyed I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith, you'll like this one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emgee

    The Harvey girls are eccentric and interesting, but with the exception of the eldest Pandora aren't the most endearing. Though the girls have thrived in a lot of ways from their unconventional upbringing, you feel that the restrictions placed upon them aren't doing well to prepare them for life outside of the idyllic world of their home where they were raised to believe in their own uniqueness. Overall, I quite enjoyed trying to suss out the root of all that tension that lay underneath all that The Harvey girls are eccentric and interesting, but with the exception of the eldest Pandora aren't the most endearing. Though the girls have thrived in a lot of ways from their unconventional upbringing, you feel that the restrictions placed upon them aren't doing well to prepare them for life outside of the idyllic world of their home where they were raised to believe in their own uniqueness. Overall, I quite enjoyed trying to suss out the root of all that tension that lay underneath all that genteel charm.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura Milton

    I have a question about this book and I don’t know where else to ask it! When Morgan and Pandora are talking on their way to the Farm, they discuss the fact that they are definitely able to have children and there is nothing stopping them medically - why would they think there was? Did I miss something in their past?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lottie Caldwell

    This is my go-to comfort book whenever I'm ill or life becomes overwhelming. It's about sisterly love and rivalry, reminiscent of Little Women or Pride and Prejudice, and like them, has dark undertones disguised among the endearing family scenes and literary references. The sisters are eccentric and snobbish but painfully aware of their vulnerability and precarious lifestyle, that comes crashing down in a dramatic and startling twist that take the final chapters in a more sombre direction. It's This is my go-to comfort book whenever I'm ill or life becomes overwhelming. It's about sisterly love and rivalry, reminiscent of Little Women or Pride and Prejudice, and like them, has dark undertones disguised among the endearing family scenes and literary references. The sisters are eccentric and snobbish but painfully aware of their vulnerability and precarious lifestyle, that comes crashing down in a dramatic and startling twist that take the final chapters in a more sombre direction. It's of its time, set in the 1950s, but I enjoy reading it immensely and it manages to remain fresh and entertaining as the years pass.

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