Wonderful Jane of Eden Rock in Cornwall has hosted a Margery Sharp day. Several bloggers read a book by her and then posted a review for 25 January. I have just slid in by the seat of my pants to make it the 26th here but I am sure it is the 25th somewhere in the world. Hawaii?
I had never heard of this author but now I am glad I have found her. The book I read was The Eye of Love published in 1957.
Miss Diver lives in an English house with her orphaned niece Martha. She is a somewhat eccentric woman who is in love with Mr. Gibson. Mr. Gibson has doted on her for the past 10 years although he still lives with his mother. Twice a week he visits and the two of them cuddle and coo each other. She is his Spanish rose (sometimes referring to her as Old Madrid, which made me laugh.) She is his big King Hal who is her protector. Their world verges between fantasy and reality. When Miss Diver’s brother died she begrudgingly took on her pre adolescent niece Martha whose only interest is being left alone to draw the shapes she sees in every object. She is a very peculiar little girl, who does not attend school and lives completely in her own world with the art in her mind.
The book opens with Mr. Gibson having to say farewell to Miss Diver and Martha because his furrier business is in trouble and he must marry Miranda Joyce who is the daughter of the top furrier in the city Mr. Joyce, in order to keep a job.
Miss Joyce is quite privileged, spoiled and very shallow. He does not want to marry her but feels he must. Miss Diver is devastated and at loose ends without her big King Hal. Martha is not fussed either way.
One day Martha meets a man who is in need of accommodation. Mr Phillips returns home with Martha and becomes a border in Miss Diver’s home. Over a bit of time he weasles himself into Miss Diver’s life. His aim is to marry her as he thinks she owns the home, with all of the valued items in the sitting room Mr. Gibson has given her over the years. If he becomes her husband he can get rid of Martha, have a home and reign supreme over this resience and Miss Diver’s life. He really is a sleazy, creepy little man.
That is where I will leave you. The questions remain: **What happens to Martha and her increasing talent? **Will Mr. Gibson marry the insipid Miranda? **What happens to the friendship that has developed between Miranda’s father and Mr. Gibson. **Will Mr. Phillips succeed in his plan? **Does Miss Diver find happiness, find the money she needs to keep her home when her income runs out? **Who lives happilon’s wedding day approaches. There is humour in it. The writing is descriptive enough without being over bearing and the characters came to life for me. I still think of them.
I really enjoyed this book. A quirky tale, concisely told with enough subplots to keep me interested and believe it or not quite a bit of suspense as Miranda and Mr Gibson are pretty obscure characters.
There is a sequel to this book about Martha in Paris as she becomes an adult enmeshed in the world of art. This book is certainly on my list to read. I liked Martha. She is a funny child and not all roses and buttercups. She has a mind of her own and is eccentric and quite uncaring of the rest of the world in her own mind.
If you would like to know more about Margery Sharp you can find a biography of her on Wikipedia here.
I will certainly be looking out for her other books.