Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp (1944)

Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp

Possibly the best-known novel for adults by Margery Sharp (her lasting legacy seems more to be for The Rescuers series for children) Cluny Brown is a comic novel following the title heroine’s quest for love, freedom, and experience. She works as a parlour maid in a country inn called Friars Carmel and there encounters a motley cast of characters. Here’s a description from the 1944 edition of Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp:


Cluny Brown has as much sense as most girls, she’s willing, good-tempered, tall, not “a Lovely.” Occasionally someone says: “The trouble with her is she doesn’t know her place.” Cook says she always looks “pro tem.” Betty Cream says she looks like “someone.” Reactions may come from the fact that she once had tea at the Ritz and once stayed in bed all day Sunday, eating oranges to relax the nerves.

She’s niece to a plumber who, thinking she should go into service instead of dipping into the experience of being seduced, ships are off to Friars Carmel in Devon, a country inn owned by Sir Henry Carmel. But life can never be simple when Cluny is around. It is still less simple when Sir Henry’s son Andrew visits his parents there. The beautiful Betty Cream doesn’t help matters.


Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp

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And if the famous Polish writer, Mr. Belinski, had not been invited to stay for a while — well! Lady Carmel is perhaps more absorbed in floral arrangements then she is in the Polish question, while Sir Henry absent-mindedly writes letters to friends in Zanzibar and Tanganyika to occupy his time, which can no longer be spent in the saddle.

Will Betty Cream marry Andrew? Why does Cluny seem to confuse everyone? Why does the village chemist go to London? What is Adam Belinski going to do in order not to stay at Friars Carmel all his life — and how do he and Cluny Brown suddenly startle the reader and solve the plot?


Margery Sharp

Learn more about Margery Sharp


More about Cluny Brown  by Margery Sharp


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