Westwood Stella Gibbons is the Jane Austen of the twentieth century The TimesSet in wartime London Westwood tells the story of Margaret Steggles a plain bookish girl whose mother has told her that she is not

  • Title: Westwood
  • Author: Stella Gibbons Lynne Truss
  • ISBN: 9780099528722
  • Page: 275
  • Format: Paperback
  • Westwood

    Stella Gibbons is the Jane Austen of the twentieth century The TimesSet in wartime London, Westwood tells the story of Margaret Steggles, a plain bookish girl whose mother has told her that she is not the type that attracts men Her schoolfriend Hilda has a sunny temperament and keeps her service boys ever so cheery When Margaret finds a ration book on Hampstead Heath Stella Gibbons is the Jane Austen of the twentieth century The TimesSet in wartime London, Westwood tells the story of Margaret Steggles, a plain bookish girl whose mother has told her that she is not the type that attracts men Her schoolfriend Hilda has a sunny temperament and keeps her service boys ever so cheery When Margaret finds a ration book on Hampstead Heath the pompous writer Gerard Challis enters both their lives Margaret slavishly adores Challis and his artistic circle Challis idolises Hilda for her hair and her eyes and Hilda finds Gerard s romantic overtures a bit of a bind This is a delightfully comic and wistful tale of love and longing.

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      Posted by:Stella Gibbons Lynne Truss
      Published :2020-07-06T18:56:56+00:00

    One thought on “Westwood

    1. Petra X

      If Cold Comfort Farm was a high point of a peculiar kind of class-based English humour, then this is the low-point of an author who hits you on the head with her absolutely humourless opinions on class, beauty and stupid women. This is so bad it leaves you wondering how anyone this awful actually had it in them to write a masterpiece.The only thing that stuck with me was Lady Pronounces-on-Everything saying to the extremely good, extremely plain and unbelievably stupid heroine that (because of h [...]

    2. Laura

      From BBC Radio 4 Extra:In 1943 bomb-hit London, teacher Margaret Steggles falls under the spell of the wealthy Challis family. Episode 2:Teacher Margaret Steggles wonders if pompous playwright Gerald Challis really is the man of her dreams.Stars Juliet Aubreyc/programmes/b01322b0

    3. Philip Jackson

      Stella Gibbons is now really only known for one novel - her first, Cold Comfort Farm. It would be easy to dismiss her as a one hit wonder, but she actually wrote over 20 books, and Westwood, published in 1946 was largely believed to be Gibbons' own personal favourite. I've left it a couple of days since finishing this novel before writing a review, as I initially didn't know what to make of it. Margaret, a young school teacher moves to London with her parents during the war years. The novel tell [...]

    4. Sarah Rodgers

      I really enjoyed this book, it tells the story of two friends, Margaret and Hilda, and of their lives and those people who they meet during the Second World War. However it is not a blow by blow account of life day to day more about the interactions between people and how those relationships go on to either mean something or do not.This book was written after the war in the mid 1940's and that is reflected in the style of writing. Margaret is an interesting character who does tend to dissect her [...]

    5. Sonia

      La editorial Impedimenta se ha dedicado en los últimos años a rescatar posibles joyas de la literatura extranjera que los españoles nos habíamos perdido hasta ahora o que simplemente estaban olvidas y entre ellas se encuentra, o debería encontrarse Westwood. Hay una razón para el uso del condicional y es que, en mi opinión, esta obra podría haber seguido en su rincón del pasado sin que la echáramos en falta.La novela adolece de dos problemas principales frente al público actual hispan [...]

    6. Heather

      I like the blurb on the edition I read: "Stella Gibbons is the Austen of the 20th century".It's great to see she seems to be having a come-back with her other books, and won't just be remembered for the brilliant "Cold Comfort Farm".

    7. Lucy

      ¡Maravillosa!Llevo leídas con esta obra cuatro novelas de Stella Gibbons y debo admitir que esta autora es mi nueva debilidad.

    8. Kris McCracken

      Decent enough little romp set in wartime-London, filled with the loathsome members of a pretentious middle class family who treat the hapless narrator with the contempt that only the posh can muster. Does a great job of capturing the mood of the time.

    9. Kate

      Cold Comfort Farm is one of my most-reread books, but Westwood was Stella Gibbons' own favourite among her novels. It's darker and more pointedly feminist, set in wartime proper rather than a fictionalised near-future 1940s and provides a fascinating minor-key mirror to CCF. Margaret is almost an anti-Flora Poste, the outsider drawn in not to sort everyone out but to be dazzled and tossed about and frankly exploited (echoes of Flora in the magnificently impervious Hilda and fundamentally frivolo [...]

    10. Ange

      The cover was very appealing, as was the back cover blurb. But I was disappointed in Westwood, and had I not been on a break in a hut in the bush, with no electricity, I would probably have given up after several chapters. The heroine, Margaret, claimed to be imaginative and sensitive, with a love for art and all things beautiful. However she came across as rather dull, and even pathetic, in the way she allowed herself to be put-upon by the Challis and Niland families - called upon to mind the c [...]

    11. Lady Drinkwell

      I was surprised to read a couple of negative reviews of this book as I absolutely loved it, although its 30 years since I read Cold Comfort Farm so in that respect I can't make a comparison. There are wonderful social observations and some very funny passages. I disagree with some reviews on amazon that all of the characters are unsympathetic. They all have their unattractive sides, which the author makes a point of showing us, but that unfortunately is humam nature. The central character also c [...]

    12. Patricia

      This would be a good candidate for republication by Persephone books. The novel opens with a vibrantly beautiful description of a day in London, and then drops the information that it's wartime and all this beauty being soaked in by people reaching out for beauty and happiness in the midst of ruin. The heroine is an earnest, beauty hungry person who has her dreams answered by becoming attached to a playwrights family, and she heads towards the disillusionment the reader expects. It's not a predi [...]

    13. Ann

      I really enjoyed this book. It has some wonderful characters and a lot of quite subtle humour. It is mainly about the relationship between Margaret Steggles, a young rather plain school teacher, and the glamorous and Bohemian Challis family. Set in North London at the end of WW2 the period is well conveyed. I didn’t initially find Margaret a very likeable character but by the end of the book I had considerable sympathy for her.

    14. Michael

      Often reads like a rough draft where an author has indicated lots of places where she's going to come back later and devise a way to "show, not tell," but then never got around to it. Still, somewhere around the halfway point I found myself engaged enough to stick it out. And there are a few funny bits, most of them involving the word "Grandpa," and the glimpse at the lives and times is a nice bonus.

    15. Andrea

      This book has the same sort of autumnal feel as some of Barbara Pym's work. It has a yearning feeling throughout, because of the main character, Margaret, who is always searching for something more meaningful in her life. Margaret is a schoolteacher during World War II in England, and she has a new teaching position at a girls' school in London. She is enchanted by the idea of living in Hampstead, in close proximity to famous painters and playwrights, especially Gerard Challis, whose plays she m [...]

    16. Bryn (Plus Others)

      I read this several times over a decade ago and loved it dearly; I have no idea if it would hold up for me now -- I fear not -- but I am rating it highly in memory of how much I enjoyed it originally. Sometime perhaps I will try rereading it and see how it is.

    17. Nina

      Published by Dodd, Mead in US, entitled The Gentle Powers. The UK edition was Westwood (singular). Green buckram rebinding. Page numbers bracketed in what look like elaborate toasting forks. Dying to know if the last chapter about The Gentle Powers is even included in the English version. It reads like a weird appendix, Explaining What It's All About.I must allow the author the dignity of respecting her clearly stated theme of how a woman must learn to live with or without men, by using The Gent [...]

    18. Kirsten

      Gibbons on the idealized v. the real again. She looks at her heroine's romantic attitude toward life and throughout the novel explores the absurdity of one of the objects of her misguided adoration, a pretentious playwright named Gerard Challis. Here's her heroine, Margaret Steggles, in the midst of her slow dawning and disillusionment with Challis and his ilk:"Then were Gerard Challis's plays not great works of art? She had always believed that they were. But if he could not make people believe [...]

    19. Lucy

      I really wanted to like this book, but the more I read the more it would give me reasons not to like it. I love Cold Comfort Farm and after reading her page about how she was a journalist and a pretty cool independent lady, I love Stella Gibbons too. However, there is such obvious racism, ableism and also sexism in this book and, although I know is a product of its time, that excuse can sometimes wear thin. It could also be that the views expressed by the main character Margaret are not those f [...]

    20. Jakey Gee

      [Vintage sent me this as a prize in a twitter challenge]A bit of a lightweight comedy, but still charming. It's set in wartime Highgate and was written in 1946. High Point gets a mention (I think she calls it 'High Rise') and even the Woodman is there (as 'The Woodcutters'). I'm a sucker for that kind of local domestic detail: the Lyon's Corner Houses / 'Old Vienna Cafe' and the 'British Restaurant’ (you can't read a 30s-50s London novel without stumbling across a Lyon's Corner House). It’s [...]

    21. Anna

      I am a little puzzled by this novel, which is very different to Cold Comfort Farm and sequels, the only other Stella Gibbons I’ve read. ‘Westwood’ at times reads like an arch and witty satire, but at others like a depressing family melodrama. The Second World War, during which it is set, is entirely incidental. My favourite example of the satirical bent: ‘The play was called In Autumn; it was about a woman who was described by her friends as “corrupt yet fiery” - a sort of compost he [...]

    22. JackieB

      This book explored the risk of underrating the commonplace beauty or good things in one's life in favour of an unattainable romantic fantasy. It could easily have been extremely sentimental but Stella Gibbons explored her themes realistically and with humour, so on the whole it avoided that problem (although the ending was a little bit too sweet for my taste). She created some marvelous characters, among them a playwright who was incredibly pompous and full of his own self-importance. He really [...]

    23. Radiantfracture

      The setting of Westwood is flawless and meticulous. It is a pleasure just to inhabit Gibsons' London of the 1940s, where the depredations of the Blitz are more or less taken in stride by sensible young women and silly bohemians. I would be perfectly happy reading only books about posh midcentury artistic circles from now until the end of my particular volume, and this was very much that.The book is curiously static, though, and almost slight. It is never as cruel or as generous as it could have [...]

    24. Amy Smith

      Poor Margaret Steggles -- she is a plain, day-dreaming young woman, a girl's-school teacher in wartime London who has been disappointed in what might have been love. She has a few friends, but when she moves to Highgate with her parents (her mother is perpetually restless at home; her father perpetually unfaithful outside of it), she finds herself moving in new circles. She meets artists and emigres and Yank soldiers and learns quite a bit about the ways of the wider world.A gentle comedy of man [...]

    25. Anna

      What I most remember (and loved) about this book is that its central character is afflicted with the problem of finding the Romantic elsewhere, and out of reach, rather than right in front of her, in the ordinary life. Gibbons complexly explores this--and comes to some surprising conclusions toward the end. Some might feel that it is tied up neatly in this way or strangely suddenly resolved, but I thought not. It seemed to me to pose another possible book entirely and got me asking questions rat [...]

    26. Yeemay

      I loved Cold Comfort Farm but had read never read anything else by Gibbons. I remember reading a recommendation and making a mental note to try it. I'm glad I did. I didn't love it immediately, it sort of crept up on me, a wonderful evocation of war time England both in the different physical landscapes but also of the lives of people separated by class, education, aspiration and money at a the cusp of great change and upheaval. It appears to be gentle tale of heroine conscious raising but there [...]

    27. Catherine Robertson

      Lynne Truss, in her introduction to these recently re-issued novels, said what I'd always thought, too - that Stella Gibbons had written one book and that was Cold Comfort Farm. I'd figured that if you'd written such a pearler, why write another? But Lynne did a bit of digging and found that Stella Gibbons was no Harper Lee, and had actually written twenty-five novels, three volumes of short-stories, and four volumes of poetry. Westwood is an astute portrayal of characters who, bar a couple, are [...]

    28. Jane

      Everyone knows Stella Gibbons, who wrote that gem of a novel Cold Comfort Farm. But who knew that she wrote so many other books,or that they were every bit as good as her first huge success? Westwood, while more elegaic and autumnal than CCF, has some deliciouscharacters; Mr. Challis the playwright who opines about Art and Tragedy as he chases a girl young enough to be his daughter; Hilda, the girl who puts him in his place; Hebe the selfish, Zita the emotionally unstable, and then Margaret Steg [...]

    29. Tom

      Incredible that this has been out of print for so long.Reminiscent of Patrick Hamilton's "The Slaves of Solitude" both in terms of the central character and the tone of the resolution. Comparisons to Jane Austen totally justified. Think this might actually be better than Cold Comfort Farm (need to re-read), the plot is certainly more complex and the themes more well developed. You do occasionally catch sight of the narrative gears clicking into place but it's hard to be annoyed when they do so s [...]

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