Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: Mariana by Monica Dickens.

I am glad that I found that "used" copy of Mariana by Monica Dickens sitting on the shelf. And I am even more glad that I brought it home with me.

My very first Persephone experience has shown me that I must get my hands on more of these lovely books. Mariana has been a wonderful first read for me, and perhaps it is the novel that has finally pulled me from my reading slump.

In Mariana, we are introduced to Mary, a young woman who is alone and awaiting news of her husband who is away in war. While she waits, Mary begins remembering moments of her childhood. We are first taken back to when she is eight, and traveling with her mother to her grandparents' house in the country. We learn that her father died in the Great War, which has affected her deeper than she lets on.

Gradually we are introduced to the other members of her family-given small glimpses of who they are and what they strive to be. Some instances made me chuckle (like the play the kids perform) and others took my breath away.

Her memories continue forward to the other experiences that have shaped her life-different jobs and relationships. Some of these are positive, but there are bad experiences as well. All of them shape her and turn her into the person she is when we first met her.

I loved this novel. So much that I really want to dive back in and explore more in the person that Mary becomes. Monica Dickens is a marvelous writer, weaving in humor and delicacy to Mary's story. One of my favorite pieces is the following:

"She had a feeling of calmness, almost of dignity, that she had never had when she was not alone. With other people one was only an unconsidered fragment of the company; alone, one was a complete entity by oneself," (72).

I love the depth of passion that weaves beneath all the small stories of Mary's life, that leads ultimately to the climax. Monica Dickens achieved this supremely and has left me feeling that she is the Dickens I should have been reading all along. I will most definitely be reading more of her work, when I can find it, in the future.

As to the whole Persephone experience? As this was my first novel published by them, and I had such a high opinion of it when I finished it, I have to say that I cannot wait to get my hands on more of their titles. If all of their books are as beautifully written and as elegant as this one, then I will have many more happy reading experiences.


  1. Aren't you delighted that Persephone now publish a second Monica Dickens novel?! They are elegant and it is the best word to use to describe the books succinctly.

    Thank you so much for participating in Persephone Reading Weekend, Allie, and I'm delighted we have converted you!

  2. I decided to read The Making of a Marchioness this weekend but I have Mariana on my TBR shelf. Great review! I really want to pick it up right now. lol :)

  3. She might be the Dickens for me, too! :-D

  4. I'm so glad this is one that I can get in the States for not too much money! Although I'd love a "used" one too :)

  5. That is one lovely cover, just like many of Persephone's books.

  6. I think this may have been my second Persephone - and I too loved it. I've enjoyed remembering it by reading your review.

  7. I am looking forward to this book very much. Thanks for the great review!