Book Review: Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley

 The Blurb:

When Juno Marlowe finds herself caught in the middle of a London air raid, she is quickly rescued by an elegant gentleman who offers her shelter and a mysterious invitation to his father’s country estate. The next morning he is dead, and she is once again alone with nowhere to go. At seventeen, Juno is used to feeling invisible, but now, without family and friends, she finds herself desperately in need of companionship, some warm clothes, and above all, a life as more than part of the furniture. How Juno finds this and more is beautifully related in this irresistible novel from one of our most enchanting writers.

What I thought:

This was my first Mary Wesley. It was a battered old paperback that I picked up from a second-hand bookshop – I was drawn to the cover which made me feel summery. I loved it. Wesley’s style is so unlike any other author I can think to compare it to sparse and to the point. There is no room for flowery prose in this book but yet its simplicity and matter-of-factness drew me right in and I really cared about the characters.

The book starts with seventeen-year-old Juno who has just seen her two childhood friends off to war in 1942 and she is wondering through the blackened streets of London with nowhere to go, when she is pulled inside a house by a stranger during an air raid. The stranger offers her a bed for the night but when she wakes up he is dead. Some weeks later, after living almost rough in London she boards a train to Cornwall to deliver a letter from the dead man to his Father. When she arrives at Copplestone’s Farm she is welcomed into the fold without question. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the book, not because there are any spectacular twists involved but because it’s fun to follow Juno in her journey.

I just loved the characters, all of them who were easy to warm to in some way. The bluntness and ‘frightful poshness’ of their speach was interspersed with humour, some of which had me laughing out loud.


“Are you staying for supper?”

“If I am invited.”

“Could you call off your Mosley [dog], he is rogering my bitch.”


I thoroughly enjoyed this book; more than I expected to in fact. Mary Wesley has written many more books (some of which I also have at home) which I fully intend to read sometime soon. I would recommend this book for frazzled brains – something gentle to sooth the soul. And an ending that had me hooting with laughter!




12 thoughts on “Book Review: Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley

  1. I’d never heard of this author before! I just looked her up on Wikipedia, and I can’t imagine how I’ve missed her. Her books sound like exactly the sort I love, and she sounds like a hoot – she bought a coffin for herself before she died and kept it in the living room for a coffee table. That’s my kind of woman. 🙂


  2. The WW2 setting alone appeals to me, but it sounds like there’s so much more here to love! I hadn’t heard of Wesley before, so thank you for bringing her to my attention.


  3. Ooh, Mary Wesley is on my mind, too and I want to re-read the wonderful Camomile Lawn. This sounds great and the fact that it is set in Cornwall, too, makes me want to read it. Thanks!


  4. Pingback: April 2010 Round Up « The Book Whisperer

  5. There are amusing parts to this novel, but it is ultimately dark. Initially, Juno is left behind in war-torn England by her mother who goes to Canada with her new husband, is raped by her two cousins who go off to the war, and finds herself in bed with a corpse. Not exactly my idea of a “hoot.”


    • I agree that some of the themes are dark but I still found it an uplifting read. It’s Wesley’s style, rather than her subject manner that I found funny. I think she has a naturally witty take on her characters and manages to make the reader laugh even through the subject matter.


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