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It was a revelation. All the girls I knew thought that the point of life was to make yourself as attractive as possible, so that lots of boys would fall in love with you, whereupon you would choose the most popular boy, fall in love with him, marry him, buy a nice house, fill it with nice objects and have a couple of nice children. This book dangled in front of me the tantalising possibility that I might grow up and still not want those things. The girls in this book wore whatever they felt like, and sometimes wore nothing at all; had fascinating jobs but no husbands or children; had lots of intriguing, oblique conversations with one another; and lived with their best female friends on houseboats.

I was absolutely loving swimming around in all that deep, opaque water.

"The Friendly Young Ladies" by Mary Renault

I had to return the book eventually, but when I went to look for it a few weeks later, it was gone. Then I gave up and almost but not quite forgot about it. Twenty-five years later, my friend H was on holiday in the UK and browsing through second-hand bookshops. Green face powder. Would that really work?

And it was the very same book — well, the cover was different, but it was still green. Lots of sharp social satire, and some wonderful insights into the convoluted thoughts and emotions of the characters.


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There are also some funny, irreverent comments about writing and publishing. And here she is, complaining about an editor who says he wants to see more romance in her manuscript:.

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Her name was Susie, or Sadie, or something. And I mentioned her again at the end. As with The Charioteer , there are no descriptions of any form of sex. In an afterword, written forty years after the book was first published, Renault says,.

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No; I have always been as explicit as I wanted to be, and have not been much more so in recent books. It turns out Leonora, the tomboyish elder sister of runaway Elsie, had an unsatisfying sexual experience with her friend Tom when they were both teenagers. As a result, Leo has turned to women, and eventually ends up in a happy, satisfying, long-term partnership with the beautiful, talented Helen, who loves Leo devotedly but not possessively.


  1. Catalog Record: The Young ladies' journal | HathiTrust Digital Library.
  2. Mary Renault's Early Contemporary Novels - Fanlore.
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It seems an ideal relationship, supportive without being suffocating. The result is this witty and stylish social comedy.

The Friendly Young Ladies

Undeniably charming. She trained as a nurse at Oxford's Radcliffe Infirmary, where she met her lifelong partner, Julie Mullard. Her first novel, Purposes of Love , was published in There, Renault was able to write forthrightly about homosexual relationships for the first time - in her masterpiece, The Charioteer , and then in her first historical novel, The Last of the Wine Renault's vivid novels set in the ancient world brought her worldwide fame.

The World According to Anna. The Abyssinian Proof. The Camel Bookmobile. The Light of Evening. The Unfinished Novel and Other stories. From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest. Self's Punishment.

The Friendly Young Ladies | amanda library | TinyCat

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