Finished Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson. Originally published in 1937, it is purported to be the Late Queen Mum's favorite novel. It is also another Persephone treasure. In her preface, Candida McWilliam says, "For this is really a fairy tale with all the savagery they invariably bear. No fairy tale is thornless; that is the point." So true.
The book begins in the present with three tourists stopping to see "KEEPSFIELD: Magnificent Residence TO BE LET Furnished with Rough Shooting and Grazing Parkland." Keepsfield is in Scotland and the tourists ask at the gate if they may see the house. The gatekeeper sends them up to speak with Mrs. Memmary, the caretaker. As Mrs. Memmary walks them over the house and grounds they learn of Lady Rose, the little girl who grew up to be the present Countess Lochlule, now an old woman. Her story begins in 1861 on her sixth birthday when she meets Mr. Charles Kingsley, author of the children's classic The Water Babies. The book bounces back and fourth between the narrative of the present and Rose's story. We see Rose through finishing school, presentation at Queen Victoria's court, debutant balls, marriage, motherhood and beyond. I won't say anymore about the story, because I do not want to give anything away. This book is like a cube of sugar with a candied violet pasted on top, so dainty and fine, and so easily and quickly dissolved. I adored it.