I’m not sure if it was because I was on vacation while reading Keeping Up Appearances, but it took me much longer to read it than usual for a novel its size. I did notice I occasionally had a hard time paying attention to it while at other times felt I was reading a script for I Love Lucy.
Daphne and Daisy are opposites in personality, but they’re constantly together. Daphne is confident, witty, and brave, perhaps a higher class than Daisy, while Daisy is shy, unsure, and not always swift on the uptake. Daisy is ashamed of her class origins and the circumstances of her birth, even though she has been raised by higher class family members. Daphne could care less about all that.
At the opening of the novel, both young women are vacationing with the Folyot family on an island in the Mediterranean. Mrs. Folyot works against tyranny and reminds me of Mrs. Jellyby. She is obsessed by her causes and so later has a hilarious scene of talking at cross-purposes with Daisy’s mother.
Both girls care for Raymond, the Folyot’s oldest son, a biologist. Although Daisy doesn’t like to look at the little animals Raymond shows her as much as Daphne does, Daisy fears she cares for Raymond more than Daphne does, but he likes Daphne more than her. Unfortunately, an incident with a wild boar makes Daisy too embarrassed to stay, and Daphne goes, too.
Daisy doesn’t think the Folyots would approve of her profession. Not only is she a successful author of middlebrow novels, but she takes assignments from a newspaper to write silly articles about women that the paper assigns her. Daisy is a snob, and she is proud of neither activity even though we suspect she is a better novelist than she thinks.
Macaulay obviously had fun skewering the newspapers, because the ideas for articles are ridiculous and sexist, as is clearly the attitude toward Daisy’s novels.
Although this novel satirizes the publishing industry, it is really about identity and self-image. Most of the characters are not quite likable except Daisy’s mother, who is a hoot.
I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for a free and fair review.