I found my first Monica Dickens novel One Pair of Hands at a fair at All Saints Church in Huntingdon when I visited England a couple of years ago. It certainly passed a number of the hours of the 28 hour trip back to Australia most pleasantly. At the Lifeline book sale a several weeks back I spotted a few more (though, alas, I lost one at the hands of a particularly dextrous old lady) including My Turn to Make the Tea - which was such a fun read. This past weekend at Bong-Bong books in Bowral I found six more which I didn't have (I might have got a little carried away!). Anyhow one I picked up was Mariana - actually the lovely Gentlemen who owns the shop gave it to me for free as it had no price in the cover. I have been coveting the Persephone Edition of this for some weeks now but, since the most important thing about a book is what is inside its covers, I am contenting myself with my 1965 Penguin Edition.
What can I say about Mariana. Sheer Delight! Anyone who enjoys the domestic details of bygone eras will love this. It is one of those "curl up on the sofa, cosy feeling" sort of books. I loved reading about Mary's childhood and her adventures in Paris - it sounded so glamorous. My favourite quote came from near the end of the book when Mary is recaling her honeymoon: "she remembered chiefly the deepening discovery that another person could be oneself. That being with him could be like being alone without the loneliness". Being in my first year of marriage myself I could not get over how apt this was.
I am very glad I read Mariana and think it might, despite the Australian Dollar to UK Pound gulf, be worth the investment in a Persephone edition one day.