“I think you may have something there, my child.” Orlando blew his nose on my towel. Knowing his mood to be fragile, I did not protest. He slung his own towel round his neck and stood up. “Anyway, Fritz deserves the best and somewhere inside me there may be something worth his while.” He put on his Eugene Onegin look – sorrow tempered by newly acquired wisdom – and went thoughtfully away.
One of my favourite, favourite authors for comfort reading, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by Victoria Clayton that I disliked and her style is so good. A lesser writer wouldn’t have such good rhythm, and a plainer one would have missed out the final “thoughtfully”.
Opera, ballet and country houses often feature in her plots, along with close friendships, surveys of the English gentry and a heroine who is usually uncertain as well as free-spirited.
As with Nancy Mitford and PG Wodehouse, some of her best jokes have become adopted shorthand between my mother and me, in particular the Onegin Look, which features in her book below, whose heroine is a ballerina, hence the O.L. and her own Aurora Smile (a bit much at close quarters, it turns out):
On a separate note, this is so not the kind of title that Clayton would choose that it makes me sad inside to see such an original author forced through the sausage factory of the in-house marketing team and into a frankly dire title and blurb.
I become enraged anyway when I see books with “The Girl’s Guide To…” in the title. It’s so bloody twee, not to say patronising. Manic Pixie Girl probably reads those kinds of books. Grrr.