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Summary

Summer 1939 and five cousins gather at the house with the camomile lawn for what, for many of them, will be the last summer of their youth.

©1984 Mary Wesley (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Camomile Lawn

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As good as I remembered

First read this after seeing the Channel 4 adaptation in early 90s and loved it. It was a welcome refresher to listen to this audiobook presentation - the narrator was excellent at giving the cast of characters different voices. The characters themselves are likeably dislikeable on occasion, and the story can be quite brittle at times but ultimately is very compelling. Definitely recommended!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The British at war as only we could be

I really loved this story. It has been filmed by the BBC but there are some parts that had to be changed or omitted. You wouldn't know that this detracts from the story until, like me you read it yourself or have it read to you. It is warm, humorous, sad and incredibly moving. I am thankful that I was not born until after the war but these characters and their stories made me wish I had been there - and isn't that what a good story is all about?

10 people found this helpful

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WTF

since when is a book that condones child molestation and rape (there is no such thing as consensual sex with a minor) and disgusting anti semitism OK.. horrified a quote for book "i wish he had died in his concentration camp and been made into a lamp shade" or " she watched the child wrap the piece of cake that Uncle Richard had brought and hid it in her gym slip so why shouldn't he be allowed to put his hand up her skirt" putting aside the dreadful writing and meandering storyless crap this isnt a classic its not Shakespeare , Elliot , Hardy or Austen, its not written in a time when this can be forgiven it was written in the 80s and should no longer be available..

8 people found this helpful

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An upper middle class war

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have recommended this book to my mum already - we both like fiction set in the early twentieth century and had both enjoyed the channel 4 television series, which was very true to the novel.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Camomile Lawn?

A conversation between Helena and her sister in law - talking about marriage and relationships, it symbolised the pragmatism that underlined the actions of all the characters in the novel (apart perhaps from Oliver) when faced with the massive disruption of the war.

What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?

Carole Boyd's narration had the right accents and tone for the middle class characters. Her narration was unobtrusive and didn't have any jarring moments of misread words or phrases.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The book left me feeling great respect for most of the characters and in particular the author - I felt impelled to go and research her life which sounds more fascinating than those of her fictional creations.

7 people found this helpful

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Dreadful Book - Read Elizabeth Jane Howard instead

I think this is a nasty, badly written book with unconvincing characters and dialogue. By the end it seemed as if even the author was bored. I know I was. The only reason I listened to the end was in the hope that, given its popularity, it would have some redeeming features. It didn’t.

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully read

Carole Boyd goes straight on my list of perfect readers. I've long admired her reading of poetry, and now can add her reading of Wesley.

The Camomile Lawn is Wesley at her idiosyncratic best. Her characters are intensely human, often behave badly and are frequently unlovable, which makes them all the more interesting. Her wit is viper-quick, non-pc. and utterly unsentimental.

I think I might loatthe her characters in real-life, but I love them on paper.

I wish there was an audiobook of my favourite, The Vacillations of Poppy Carew.

3 people found this helpful

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I remembered this fondly........

I read this many years ago, then, I thought it was really good! I really cannot imagine why I did remember it that way! None of the characters are likeable, and it was just a constant barrage of sexual freedoms, really over the top, and no real story! A family living through the war and taking advantage of the lax standards of the age and the war! People were falling into bed at a moments notice with whosoever was available!



A major disappointment and an insult to one's intelligence!

3 people found this helpful

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Wonderfully read, insightful story

Carole Boyd’s narrating is excellent and really brings the characters to life. And what an insight into war-torn Britain and the lives none of us imagined might have been. Happiness and excitement despite the war.

3 people found this helpful

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Reveals human nature - though not at its best

Whilst this is certainly not a difficult book to listen to, its vivid characterisation reveals a lot about human nature in general and more specifically the impact on a personal level which WWII could have on individuals. The characters themselves are unforgettable - especially as interpreted by this narrator. This is partly because the listener is allowed to get to know them so well - and to watch the war and the passage of time transform them - and partly because they are as unlikable a bunch as you are likely to find populating a novel! It is a credit to Carole Boyd's performance (with its clear differentiation between the various characters) that I was so reluctant to let them go when she reached the end.

If you are new to the book, be aware that it involves multiple interlinked love affairs amongst the group of protagonists, so it may be best to avoid "The Camomile Lawn" if this will cause you offence. There are, however, no graphic sex scenes.

2 people found this helpful

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I did not like it much

The story is good, about life, interesting characters, but the way it was told, not so good, sometimes so vulgar and nasty 🤢. Everyone sleeps with each other in the group, i don’t know, i just wanted it to end faster.... maybe because of the cover and the name of the book, I expected it to be something nice and kind, like “Anne of Green Gables”, but it turned out to be so vulgar sometimes, yuck 🤢,

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ilana
  • 13-09-12

Terrific family saga set during WWII

As Helena Cuthbertson, known as Aunt Helena, and her niece by marriage Polly make their way separately to the funerals of Max Erstweiler, a German Jewish musician who had made England his home since WWII, they both reminisce about their family stories. These involve the pre-war games of a gaggle of cousins, including gorgeous Calypso Cuthbertson, who wanted only to be rich and didn't know how to love, Oliver Anstey who wanted only to have Calypso to himself but alas, was not rich, Sophy, who as the youngest, and living with aunt Helena and uncle Richard, only knew good times when her cousins were about, Walter Cuthbertson, Polly's brother who also loved Calypso, but knew better than to declare himself, and a pair of twins, the local vicar's sons. And of course, uncle Richard, who defines himself by his lost leg, sacrificed during the Great War and Aunt Helena, who only discovered love when she began her extra-marital affair with the ever unfaithful Max Erstweiler, while Richard naturally took up with Max's wife, Monika. The Camomile Lawn of the story is one of the most charming features of Aunt Helena's house in Cornwall where all the cousins share their favourite fond memories. I truly loved this story and once again enjoyed Wesley's wonderful prose, but perhaps having such a large cast of characters made it more difficult for me to keep track of the goings on and form an attachment to any one of the characters. All the same, a terrific family saga mostly set in the England of the Second World War. Carole Boyd's narration makes an already great novel that much more pleasant to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MS D L JENNER
  • 19-11-12

Not so Great Second Time Round

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

It was OK. When I read this for the first time in the 1990's I loved it. Coming back to listen I wasn't so sure. Many of the characters just weren't very nice and I didn't much care what happened to them.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

A little difficult to say as this was my second time with The Chamomile Lawn. It was, I would say, predictable.

What about Carole Boyd’s performance did you like?

It was good. She created individual characters and caught their personalities well.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I'm sure I saw the mini-series!