Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp

I so wish I didn’t have to file this under ‘books you won’t read before you die’. Such a crying shame.

When my mother handed this back to me yesterday, she said it was mildly amusing here and there. Told me the sentence she thought was most important. A bit Jane Austeny she said, in that way that damns everything in a comparison I wish could be outlawed.

This, after I’d laughed out loud on most pages to the occasional envy of my reading companion who was stuck in his Persian grammar book, which is very light on laughs. I read bits out and wanted to torment him with more. I do wish people liked being read to – I need a willing audience, though I make do with a captive one.

Looking for confirmation that this book was hilarious throughout and not merely amusing now and again, I wondered if it had been made into a movie. Ah ha! Not only was it filmed, but it was directed by the comic – of a type – doyen Ernst Lubitsch. The words used to describe his work are urbane and sophisticated. There was, according to wiki a thing, the Lubitsch touch. I recommend as an example, The Shop Around the Corner, even though it has Jimmy Stewart in it. As I write I’m only 10 minutes into Cluny Brown – so far it’s a bit like the Morecambe explanation of the piano piece he’s playing: the notes are the same as originally written, it’s just the order that’s different. I will report when finished.

I read an early reprint of the original Collins 1944 edition. The information on goodreads that it was first published in the US, with the first edition not mentioned at all, is no doubt incorrect.


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