I found this a beautiful, evocative, brave and touching story It s hard to say without spoilers, but it s absolutely the sort of thing I love, being a woman s story of the 1920s The generation gap between Mary in the 20th century and her father stuck in the 19th century made me wonder if there is a similar thing happening now, between the 20th and 21st centuries, but I don t think so I think the big changes now are all about technology, not about attitudes Changes in attitudes happen, but smoothly There s nothing like the abrupt changes that happened in the 1920s and again in the 1960s view spoiler I think this book would be a lot popular if it had a traditionally happy ending, which is sad, but I don t think it is a sad book The life depicted is just not run of the mill hide spoiler I discovered The Rector s Daughter while poking around on Virago s website I like Virago They only publish books written by women which is interesting but not what draws me to them They publish two of my very favorite authors Angela Carter and Sarah Waters and I am a huge fan of the Virago Modern Classics series These are neglected, out of print books that Virago brings back into print By re issuing these titles Virago helps to broaden what books constitute The Classics Don t think that I m whining when I point out that for centuries men decided what The Classics were, I m not it s just the way it s been With few exceptions women writers did not have the same opportunities to get published as men did and their works were generally not taken as seriously as the writings of their male counterparts Virago redresses that And Let me be honest By publishing books that are new to me because they are brand new and books that are new to me because they had gone out of print makes me feel like there is even that I get to read which is so wonderful.The Rector s Daughter was written by F.M Mayor and originally published in 1924 It caught my attention for two reasons The intellectual reason is that the title sounds like it could be a novel by Trollope, one of my many favorite authors The other reason is the secretly I am 12 reason Rector Damn near killed her Okay I have gotten that out of the way and can now move on to a book I adore.Dedmayne Rectory is in decline Canon Jocelyn is aging rapidly, the house itself is an out of fashion pageant to Victorian decorating and Mary, the Rector s daughter, is a 35 year old spinster Mary s life is organized by parish activities and the care of her sister Ruth and their Father If Mary had lived in a different time or a different household Ruth s death might have freed her to develop a independent life of her own As it is the loss of Ruth only seems to cement Mary s loneliness Her attempts to expand her world are thwarted by her not unkind Father She experiences a brief but deeply felt romance with the arrival of Mr Herbert but what she wants is out of her reach and Mary has never learned how to pursue.Take a bare bones look at the plot and not much happens but read The Rector s Daughter and you experience a lifetime of small lives There is a community of richly drawn characters circling Mary Mayor used these characters not just to believably populate Dedmayne but also to highlight Mary s Victorian life verses her desires Her journey outward isn t dramatic or life changing by today s standards but Mary s Victorian upbringing had not prepared her for personal growth let alone what the world would expect of her in the Jazz Age.F M Mayor wrote a fantastic, delicate masterpiece but how did she also manage to make this quiet novel a page turner Incredible talent or writer voodoo Her Mary is a complicated woman and the unfolding of her emotional life had me enthralled I absolutely loved this book Thank you Virago for making The Rector s Daughter available for me to be amazed by. Dedmayne Rectory Is Quietly Decaying, Its Striped Chintz And Darkened Rooms Are A Bastion Of Outmoded Victorian Values Here Mary Has Spent Thirty Five Years, Devoting Herself To Her Sister, Now Dead, And To Her Father, Canon Jocelyn Although She Is Pitied By Her Neighbours For This Muted Existence, Mary Is Content But When She Meets Robert Herbert, Mary S Ease Is Destroyed And Years Of Suppressed Emotion Surface Through Her Desire For Him First Published In This Novel Is An Impressive Exploration Of Mary S Relationship With Her Father, Of Her Need For Robert And The Way In Which, Through Each, She Comes To A Clearer Understanding Of Love I struggled with this one and did not get on with it ultimately, I found it quite dull and the characters unlikeable The style was too dry I read the first third and then skimmed the rest The relationship between Mary and her father was interesting though I don t mind a sad story or ending for that matter but there was not enough to keep my interest. This novel reminded me of something important that it is a lot easier to write an engaging novel about someone s exceptional, with extraordinary talents and or dropped into unusual circumstances It takes considerably literary skill to write a beautiful, fascinating novel about one ordinary person to whom very little happens Many of the former type of book can be found everywhere Mayor has managed the much rarer latter form with The Rector s Daughter , which recounts the life of Mary Jocelyn.I have to give The Rector s Daughter five stars, not least because it managed what very few books have it made me cry On a train, even It may be a contributory factor that I relate to Mary I defy anyone to read this novel and not do so at least a little, but as I too am a spinster I felt especially sympathetic to her Mayor recounts the minor occurrences and limited circle of people that constitute Mary s life with exceptional sensitivity She and her friends, relatives, and acquaintances are brilliantly, utterly convincingly brought to life Despite the absence of very dramatic events and lack of famous or historically significant characters, I was utterly fascinated with Mary s story Her life felt real and moving in a way that few writers manage It was this that made the book so desolate The narrative voice is cool and wonderfully paced, showing the inner complexity and humanity I can t think of a better word of Mary, then revealing in other scenes how she is seen, talked of, and remembered by those who knew her This is a novel that understands loneliness, better even than Rilke s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge urban male loneliness is by no means of the same character as female rural loneliness, though Despite the great similarity in subject matter, it is also utterly different to Orwell s A Clergyman s Daughter In that, Orwell dwelt on a socio economic system his protagonist was caught in, without sparing her much sympathy as a person Thus, his novel is merely depressing, whereas The Rector s Daughter is devastating I realise that using such adjectives as desolate and devastating doesn t amount to much of a recommendation It should, as this novel is truly brilliant Don t read it if you want something to simply cheer you up I d suggest Gideon Defoe s pirate adventures or something by Steve Aylett for that purpose This is a book to remind us of the complexity and depth of inner life within every single person we come across Everyone we walk past in the street has their stories, their memories, their joys and tragedies Some fiction inadvertently conveys the idea that most people are cyphers This novel some dated comments about the lower classes aside powerfully demonstrates the exact opposite. This is one of those books set in an inconsequential english village with inconsequential characters who live dull, prosaic lives All of the action takes place in the thoughts and emotions of the Rector s daughter and the people she knows and loves But what a rich, beautiful book You will remember these people and their lives long after you turn the last page. This seems to me an unusually fine novel It is deeply felt, and of the highest sentiments I was surprised at every turn by new revelations about the characters, and moved by the depiction of their struggles and joys. No one could accuse F M Mayor of writing a cheerful story, but she certainly wrote a beautifully poignant one, and one I found very readable I have been circling around this novel and The Third Miss Symons for some time, knowing already that there would be a degree of sadness to the stories of stagnant lives that Mayor appears to have particularly written about I have Simon and Karen s 1924 club to thank for giving me the nudge to read The Rector s Daughter my first F M Mayor novel.Flora M Mayor, like the woman she created in this novel was the daughter of a clergyman However according to Janet Morgan in her introduction to this edition, Flora was nothing like her heroine Mary Jocelyn I was rather delighted to learn that Flora seemed to have had quite a bit of spirit about her.Mary Jocelyn is in her mid thirties and already fading, her life has been one of quiet, respectful duty Living in the home of her father Canon Jocelyn, Dedmayne Rectory a house as faded as its occupants, Mary is pitied by her neighbours for the reduced life she is living Having devoted herself to her father, her recently deceased, disabled sister, and the few wants of the villagers Mary has little to look forward to An occasional visit from her childhood friend Dora, a short holiday to Broadstairs with her Aunt, is what her life has become Her father is an octogenarian of Victorian values, a man of cold reserve, he has no idea of Mary s inner life, and he takes her and her continual presence for granted.full review I sought this out because Susan Hill hails it as a forgotten classic and it s included on a list of books to read in your thirties in The Novel Cure It s a gentle and rather melancholy little 1924 novel about Mary, the plain, unmarried 35 year old daughter of elderly Canon Jocelyn, a clergyman in the undistinguished East Anglian village of Dedmayne On the whole she was happy She did not question the destiny life brought her People spoke pityingly of her, but she did not feel she required pity That is, until she unexpectedly falls in love We follow Mary for the next four years and see how even a seemingly small life can have an impact.I expect Berthoud and Elderkin chose this as a book for one s thirties because it s about a late bloomer who hasn t acquired the expected spouse and children and harbors secret professional ambitions The struggle to find common ground with an ageing parent is a strong theme, as is the danger of an unequal marriage Best not to say too much about the plot itself, but I d recommend this to readers of Elizabeth Taylor I was also reminded strongly at points of A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence and Tender Is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald It s a short and surprising classic, one well worth rediscovering.Note Flora Macdonald Mayor 1872 1932 published four novels and a short story collection Her life story is vaguely similar to Mary Jocelyn s in that she was the daughter of a Cambridge clergyman. Bleak beauty an exquisite study of pain, loss, misunderstandings and missed opportunities, all overridden by duty A few aspects of the plot are a little contrived and I was never quite convinced by the character of Kathy, but the emotion is raw enough to justify these minor flaws.Mary is in her mid 30s and living a lonely but useful life with her father a canon in the Church of England in a dull East Anglian village, between the wars Her life is marked by loss from childhood onwards and she is generally crushed by the invincible force of her father s inaction Her father is fond of her, but unable to express it, in part because he is disappointed in and confused by her, and he is unaware of the hurt his thoughtless put downs cause Another time her father grieved for her, but doing as he would be done by, he let fall no word of sympathy For a while she funnels her love into her learning disabled sister, finding something to treasure in what others shunned , but the sister dies She devotes herself to parish duties she attracted confidences, particularly sad ones.There are fleeting glimpses of opportunities, but people, circumstances and Mary s own inhibitions conspire to prevent anything coming of them She meets a man, but is too humble to be repelled by his dullness Love comes from another quarter, but it s a perilous path and she feels so guilty for such an incredibly minor transgression that she feels outcast from her religion She was exalted in ecstasy, but with duty paramount her ecstasy took the form of good resolutions There are some wittier insights too, such as Dora came from the section of the middle class which is so good and kind it CAN NOT be rude Mary came from the section above it, which CAN the fact that shy people make the best hosts because they dislike being left out, and wishing to live in London where sympathy was not so omnipresent On the whole she was happy , despite her sad past, from which she refused to be free and the book is similarly sad but captivating.
aka Mary Strafford Flora Macdonald Mayor was an English novelist and short story writer who published under the name F M Mayor.Mayor s father, Joseph Bickersteth Mayor 1828 1916 , was an Anglican clergyman and professor of classics and then of moral philosophy at King s College London her mother, Alexandrina Jessie Grote 1830 1927 , 1 was niece of the utilitarian George Grote as well as the
- 364 pages
- The Rector's Daughter
- F.M. Mayor
- 13 May 2017 F.M. Mayor