Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Third Miss Symons (review)

by F. M. Mayor

And the last thing Henrietta would ever be was unusual.

It is simply the life of an unmarried idle woman of the last generation.
In a land like England, where there is great wealth, little education and little general thought, people like Miss Mayor's heroine are common; we have all met not one or two but dozens of her.
John Masefield in the preface

The Third Miss Symons is really a good read. Although it spoke of a woman who lived more than a century ago, and luckily things for us women are a bit changed since then, it still remains of today in its description of the life of a person, basically, alone. The style of Mayor never degenerating, however, into pathetic and melodramatic, managing to mix the irony with melancholy, so eventually the novel is not as sad as it may seem, but nice, to read with pleasure, and be won.



Henrietta was the third daughter and fifth child of Mr. and Mrs. Symons, so that enthusiasm for babies had declined in both parents by the time she arrived.

A large family should be such a specially happy community, but it sometimes occurs that there is a girl or boy who is nothing but a middle one, fitting in nowhere. So it was with Henrietta, till the youngest child was born.

She was adored, possibly because she had a bad temper (bad temper is an asset in a teacher).

The Symons family had not the friend-making quality - a capricious quality, which withholds itself from those who have the greatest desire, and even apparently the best right, to possess it.

She had missed the excitement of saying disagreeable things. The day had become chilly without them.

There were others as lonely as herself at school, there are always many lonely in a community; but she did not realize this, and felt herself exceptional.

The heroines, it is true, were exquisitely beautiful, which Henrietta knew she was not, but from a study of "Jane Eyre" and "Villette" in the holidays, Charlotte Brontë was forbidden at school owing to her excess of passion, Henrietta realized that the plain may be adored too.

To many people, even to some women, it is not, as it was to her, the all-sufficing condition of existence to love and be loved.

But it is one of the saddest things about lonely people, that, having no proper confidant, they tell to all and sundry what ought never to be told to more than one.

Not to become too clever; it [is] a great pity for a girl to get too clever.
Etta's father

What was the use of twelve years in which she had sincerely tried to do her best, if she had not built up some little memorial of affection? It was the old complaint of all her life, "I am not wanted."

Whatever I do, I fail; what is the use of my living? Why was I born?

"I can't conceive why you play [patience]," they said crossly. But the reason was perfectly clear. It stared one in the face. During the patience the clock had moved from ten minutes past eight to twenty-five minutes to ten.

Another interest was an enormous collection of photographs of places, which she had not cared for at the time, and could not in the least remember; another her address-book of pensions and hotels, to which she was always adding new volumes; above all, grumbling.

If there is any justice and mercy in the world how can they allow a poor, weak human creature to have so few opportunities.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting!

Persuasion [#books #review]

by Jane Austen She had used him ill; deserted and disappointed him; and worse, she had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so, whi...