Early in 1941, seventeen-year-old Juno Marlowe is hurrying down a London street. Planes thunder overhead; a battery of guns opens up. She is rescued from this nightmare by a gaunt stranger who offers her the protection of his house. Given this respite from the bleakness of an existence where she has no home and family, June encounters a series of events that take her to a house in the West Country, where war only occasionally intrudes, where she may find peace, and no longer just be part of the furniture.
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The heroine of Mary Wesley's latest novel, Part of the Furniture, is 17- year-old Juno Marlowe, a girl possessed of both extraordinary innocence and remarkable courage. We first meet Juno during the World War II blitz of London; she is suffering the twin effects of rape and having to sleep next to a dead stranger during an air raid. Other novelists might have chosen to plumb these traumatic events for several chapters at least, but Wesley gives them no more time than she thinks they deserve and then moves quickly on to the heart of her story, which takes Juno far away to the western corner of England to deliver a letter from the dead man to his family. Here Juno meets the stranger's father, a man considerably older than herself, and finds her soulmate.
If there's such a thing as a steely-eyed romantic, Mary Wesley is one. On the one hand, she deals with death, rape, and other horrors with unsentimental straightforwardness and humor as black as a coal cellar; on the other, she is a firm believer in love's ability to heal even the deepest wounds. The pleasure of reading Part of the Furniture is observing this surprising marriage of love and pragmatism, as well as the unexpected twists and turns Wesley throws into her tale of loving during wartime.From the Publisher:
"A novel whose freshness of tone, energy of plotting and sweet nature make it exceptional by any standards"
-Eliza Charlton, Sunday Telegraph
"Few novelists offer such a rich concoction of amoral spice and cleverness; but to judge her work exlusively on this level is to miss more subtle rewards"
-Elizabeth Buchan, Mail on Sunday
"With its brilliant final twist, this is Mary Wesley's best yet"
-Katie Campbell, Evening Standard
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