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A Harp in Lowndes Square (1936)

por Rachel Ferguson

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472551,230 (3.5)12
In the schoolroom in Lowndes Square, a child, in her ugly, unsuitable frock of plum-coloured satin, cut down when discarded from one of her mother's, bent over the cutting out of a doll and its cardboard wardrobe, and shivered as she worked. Hilarious, shocking, and heartbreaking in turn, A Harp in Lowndes Square is like no other Rachel Ferguson novel. Perhaps her most personal work - and the closest she ever came to a ghost story - it tells of Vere and James, twins gifted with 'the sight, ' which allows them to see and even experience scenes from the past (including one, at Hampton Court, involving royalty). The twins are already aware of their mother's troubled relationship with her own mother, the formidable Lady Vallant, but the discovery of an Aunt Myra, who died young and of whom their mother has never spoken, leads them to uncover the family's tragic past. Against the backdrop of World War I and Vere's unexpected relationship with an aging actor (and his wife), and rife with Ferguson's inimitable wit, the novel reaches a powerful and touching denouement when the twins relive the horrifying events of many years before ... A Harp in Lowndes Square was originally published in 1936. This new edition features an introduction by social historian Elizabeth Crawford. 'It is only (now) that I realise how much ... my work owes to the delicacy and variety of Rachel Ferguson's exploration of the real and the dreamed of, or the made up, or desired.' A.S. Byatt… (mais)
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Well that was a lovely book, just really pleasant to read. Almost a ghost story and really full of character and observation.
It was nice to read a period piece (1920s ish) with decent female characters who aren't just trying to get themselves married off.

The Kindle edition that I read was annoyingly packed with spelling mistakes, wrong words, wrong characters and other editorial errors. This was occasionally very confusing as there was also a lot of archaic use of words and historical references which were hard to follow as sometimes t wasn't clear whether it was a legitimate use of a word or just an editing error.

I picked this up thanks to this excellent book list article in the TLS. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Interesting but rather weak, certainly weak compared with the author's Alas, Poor Lady or The Brontës Went to Woolworths. What's interesting about Harp is its echo of TBWtW, Ferguson's second novel, with the ghostly apparitions and the younger family becoming attached to the prominent elderly man (and his wife). I might like Harp better after I read the author's memoir We Were Amused, because Elizabeth Crawford's introduction to this "Furrowed Middlebrow" paperback reprint of Harp suggests autobiographical elements to the novel.

One complaint. This "Furrowed Middlebrow" edition seems to have been rather carelessly printed, with what appears to be the kind of typographical errors arising from imperfect proofreading of OCR-scanned pages of an original text. For serious academic study of Ferguson, reference might better be had to a first edition. ( )
  CurrerBell | Aug 30, 2018 |
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In the schoolroom of Lowndes Square, a child, in her ugly, unsuitable frock of plum-coloured satin, cut down from one of her mother's, bent down over the cutting out of a doll and its cardboard wardrobe, and shivered as she worked.
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In the schoolroom in Lowndes Square, a child, in her ugly, unsuitable frock of plum-coloured satin, cut down when discarded from one of her mother's, bent over the cutting out of a doll and its cardboard wardrobe, and shivered as she worked. Hilarious, shocking, and heartbreaking in turn, A Harp in Lowndes Square is like no other Rachel Ferguson novel. Perhaps her most personal work - and the closest she ever came to a ghost story - it tells of Vere and James, twins gifted with 'the sight, ' which allows them to see and even experience scenes from the past (including one, at Hampton Court, involving royalty). The twins are already aware of their mother's troubled relationship with her own mother, the formidable Lady Vallant, but the discovery of an Aunt Myra, who died young and of whom their mother has never spoken, leads them to uncover the family's tragic past. Against the backdrop of World War I and Vere's unexpected relationship with an aging actor (and his wife), and rife with Ferguson's inimitable wit, the novel reaches a powerful and touching denouement when the twins relive the horrifying events of many years before ... A Harp in Lowndes Square was originally published in 1936. This new edition features an introduction by social historian Elizabeth Crawford. 'It is only (now) that I realise how much ... my work owes to the delicacy and variety of Rachel Ferguson's exploration of the real and the dreamed of, or the made up, or desired.' A.S. Byatt

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