Review 1681: Mamma

Diana Tutton only wrote three books. All of them feature dysfunctional families, although Guard Your Daughters is a quirky but relatively traditional romantic novel. Mamma is more unusual.

Joanna has been a widow for 20 years, because her husband died unexpectedly in the early days of their marriage. Although only 41, she has a 20-year-old daughter, Libby, with whom she has a close and loving relationship.

Joanna has just moved when Libby comes for a visit and informs her that she is getting married—to an Army major named Steven. The marriage is to be soon, because Steven expects to be deployed overseas within a few months.

At first, Joanna is not sure what attracted Libby to Steven. She finds him unattractive, and at 36, he is closer to her age than Libby’s. However, circumstances throw them together to live with her, and she begins to understand that she and Steven have more in common than Steven and Libby. With her feelings for Steven growing, Joanna must figure out how to navigate this emotional situation.

Tutton depicts these relationships skillfully, in a way that makes you feel only sympathy for the characters. It is an empathetic and emotionally astute portrayal.

I received a copy of this novel from the publishers in exchange for a free and fair review.

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Review 1366: Guard Your Daughters

About every nine months to a year, I sign up for a six-month subscription with Persephone Press. I have enjoyed most of these books and have found several delightful. Such was the case with Guard Your Daughters, originally published in 1953.

Morgan loves her home and family, but her family is very isolated. Her sister, Pandora, is married, but none of the other four girls have opportunities to meet people, particularly men. Their father is a famous mystery writer who tends to remain aloof from his fans, but the actual problem is their mother. They adore her, but her mental problems require her to have absolute calm.

When Gregory’s car breaks down outside the house, Morgan insists he stay for supper and then is hard-pressed to come up with a meal because of the straits of post-war England. All seems to go well until the girl’s mother meets Gregory and declares he is not to be invited back.

Chafing under a life of restriction, Morgan hopes to be allowed to visit Pandora. However, their mother decides that Cressida is to go instead.

On a jaunt to the movies with her youngest sister, Teresa, the girls are offered a ride by Patrick, a cousin of nearby Lord Malfrey. When he finds out who their father is, he is excited to meet him. All goes well until they find out Patrick has ulterior motives.

This novel is charming, reminding me a little bit of I Capture the Castle or Cold Comfort Farm. It is light, with a more serious ending, and you come to care for this eccentric family.

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