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Extracts from reviews that appeared on the frontispiece of Christine Longford’s next book Country Places.
Making Conversation
CHRISTINE LONGFORD
From 1931–35 Christine, later Lady, Longford wrote four novels; after that she devoted herself to Dublin’s Gate Theatre.This is her first novel and is about Martha Freke growing up. She is, a lonely, academic, gauche child (as was Christine) who finds it hard to adjust to the unspoken conventions of home and school. Eventually she goes on a scholarship to Oxford but even there
A 1931 dress fabric, in a private collection
PREFACE BY RACHEL BILLINGTON
she cannot understand the rules of ‘making conversation’. In 1970 Pamela Hansford Johnson wrote in the TLS: ‘This ought to be regarded as an English comic classic, which I suppose, unlike the ravishing Cold Comfort Farm, it is not. I hope time will redress the neglect.’ And in her Preface Rachel Billington calls it ‘witty, crisp and dry as a fresh biscuit, a book of astonishing subtlety that is not at all “worked out”.’ Making Conversation, although very funny, is not for everyone since it is quirky, eccentric, perhaps slightly oddball, and in some ways a one-off: there isn’t another book quite like it.
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