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Bonne écoute !
Matilda Poliport, recently widowed, has decided to End It All. But her meticulously planned bid for graceful oblivion is foiled, and when she later foils the suicide attempt of another lost soul - Hugh Warner, on the run from the police - life begins again for both.
But life also begins to throw up nasty secrets and some awkward questions: just what was Matilda’s husband Tom doing in Paris? How is the soon-to-be-knighted John (or Piers as he likes to be called) involved? Was Louise more than just a lovely daughter? And why did Hugh choose Matilda as his saviour?
Jumping the Queue, brimming over with confidence and black humour, is Mary Wesley’s brilliant debut novel.
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What happens when you're past caring...
Mary Wesley has become one of my favourite British female authors since I discovered her last year. This is not a happy story by any means, as it starts with our protagonist Matilda Poliport who's been widowed for a few years and having lost her cherished husband, with four grown children who refuse to visit her, has decided the best life has to offer is behind her. When the novel begins, she is just putting the last touches to a major housecleaning as she is carefully putting into execution her meticulously planned suicide. Her beloved pet gander Gus is sold to a farmer, where he'll ostensibly be happy with a harem of six geese, and she's off to her favourite secluded beach to have a picnic of brie and Beaujolais before taking sleeping pills and swimming into the tide. But of course her plans are foiled when she meets Hugh Warner, an attractive 30-something man on the run from the police and known all over the media as "The Matricide". She saves him before committing his own suicide attempt and brings him back to her cottage to hide away, where of course, a most unusual relationship will develop. Relationships are Wesley's strength, as is writing from a mature person's perspective on life, but mature not so much in the sense of having acquired bundles of wisdom as having lived life fully and being past caring what others think and feeling free to impose one's personality on others. Which of course makes for fascinating characters. I don't know if Matilda is necessarily a likeable character, since we learn she has mostly lived her life denying all the uncommonly unpleasant things that have been thrown her way, but thanks to Wesley's subtle skills it is impossible not to form an attachment to her AND the matricide. Of course, we're not to expect a happy ever after given the ingredients this story is made up of, but that hardly matters, as Wesley succeeds in creating another thing of messy and unruly beauty.
Something to listen to whilst weeding the garden
Would you try another book from Mary Wesley and/or Anna Massey?
I bought this book because I love listening to Anna Massey read. The story was a dreary English tale that started nowhere and went nowhere. Just interesting enough to keep listening and take one's mind off menial tasks such as weeding the garden. No more books from Mary Wesley.
What was most disappointing about Mary Wesley’s story?
The lacklustre story. There was no plot development.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The narrator saved the book. I would have dumped the books if it was not read by Anna Massey.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
Yes, the voice of Anna Massey.
Any additional comments?
This is a book I bought on the strength of the narrator. Can't expect every book to be a