Read Cousin Rosamund by Rebecca West Online


Rich in period detail, lyrical in its evocation of the Thames, a novel that reveals both the problems of marriage and the ecstasies of sexual love...

Title : Cousin Rosamund
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780860688297
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Cousin Rosamund Reviews

  • Jane
    2018-11-10 16:46

    Cousin Rosamund’ is the final, incomplete book of a series that was to tell the story of a century through the story of the lives of the Aubrey family and their circle.The first book, 'The Fountain Overflows' was published in 1956; the second book, 'This Real Night' was published in 1984, a year after the author’s death; and then this book was published, with notes suggesting what might have followed.This book, reckoned to be two-thirds complete by Victoria Glendinning, who wrote the afterword, is less polished than the books came before, and it doesn't stand up well as a book on its own, but I was drawn in by a wonderfully familiar narrative voice and I was intrigued by the way that the story evolved.It has moved into a new milieu and a new age, and the covers of the Virago Modern Classics editions of these books reflect the way that this story of a century has developed and changed rather well.Twin sisters Rose - who tells the story - and Mary have successful careers as concert pianists, but they are struggling to come to terms with the loss of their mother and of their much loved younger brother, Richard Quin.They have the support of family friends.Mr Morpugo, who had employed their father and had always been happier with their family than with his own, had helped them to let the family home and found them a lovely new home in St John's Wood. They recognised that it was the right thing to do, but they vowed to make it as much like south London as they could. Bringing Kate, their much loved family retainer with them, helped a great deal.Their much-loved cousin Rosamund had achieved her long-held ambition to become a nurse and is sharing a flat with her mother a few miles away. Rose and Mary were sorry not to have Rosamund with them, but they understood that she had to live close to her work, and they appreciated that she wanted to support her mother, who had not had the easiest life.The Dog and Duck, on the banks of the river Thames, run by old family friends, continued to be a refuge. It showed them a world utterly different from the artistic and domestic worlds they knew, and they had always loved it.They weren't just coping with grief; they were coping with their careers not being what they hoped they would be. They loved the playing, they loved the luxuries that success brought them, but they hated the vulgar, social world that they had to move through and they were bitterly disappointed that so few of the people that they met had a real love and understanding of musicThe love of their oldest friends sustained Rose and Mary, but they seemed unable to move forward from that, and to form new, adult relationships.This book follows their painful journey towards emotional and artistic maturity.They lose their cousin Rosamund, who makes an inexplicable marriage to a man they consider quite beyond the pale, and abandons her career and her mother to travel abroad with him.They are to some degree reconciled with their elder sister Cordelia, who, after being forced to face the fact that she lacked the emotional understanding of music needed to make it a career, had found happiness as the wife of a successful man.Many of the things that Rebecca West did so well in the books that came before this one are present again. Her prose is rich and vivid, full of sentences and expressions to treasure. She presents extended scenes and long conversations so very well. Her understanding of her characters emotions and situations is so very good, and I couldn't doubt for a moment that she was writing about a world and about people that were utterly real and alive for her.There are weaknesses though. Rosamund's marriage was as inexplicable to me as it was to Rose and Mary. The return of Miss Beaver, Cordelia's old music teacher, seemed driven by a wish for all of the past cast to make a reappearance rather than because the story needed her. Though there seemed to be no concern for Rosamund's mother after her daughter's departure.And - though I'm not sure if this is a weakness or just a difference - Claire - the girls' mother - and Richard Quin brought a warmth that I missed in this book. Of course this book had to be different, it explores bereavement and grief, but it is not as easy to love as the books that came before.In the end - after a crisis - Rose choses to move forward and allows herself to love, while Mary choses to retreat from the world. That made wonderful sense after the time I have spent with them, and thinking about how they were alike and how they were differentRose's story was so beautifully executed, and I wished I could have followed it for a little longer.'He came towards me and I became rigid with disgust, it seemed certain that I must die when he touched me, but instead, of course, I lived.'Mary's story was much less complete, but it was easy to see where it was going.The book as a whole needs editing, but just for a little more clarity; the quality of the writing is still there and it is only when it ends that the story feels incomplete.The afterword includes the author's notes about the previous volumes, and I loved the insight into the authors themes, ideas and plans that they gave me. It also contains note for a fourth volume that she would never write. Her plan was ambitious, I'm not convinced that she would have pulled them off, but I do wish that she had written that book.There have been diminishing returns with this series of books, but the staring point was high and the downward slope has been gentle.I have loved following the story of the Aubrey family, and I will miss them now I have reached the end.

  • Laura
    2018-10-26 21:09

    This is the third and final book of the Aubrey trilogy.Even if the style of writing of Rebecca West is not considered as being as romain-fleuve, the last two volumes of this series certainly have the similar characteristics used by Romain Rolland and Marcel Proust.

  • Maureen
    2018-11-21 19:12

    This is not a great sequel. Since so many of the main characters from The Fountain Overflows and This Real Night are dead or MIA before this book begins, we have to rely on a mix of new faces and characters who took minor roles in the previous books. None of them can really hold a candle to Mama, Papa, or Richard Quin. Also, most of the conflict from the first two books has been resolved. Cordelia is married and out of trouble, but her transformation is not complete enough that we can trust her with anything. Rose and Mary are now successful pianists, and their interactions with high society are not nearly as compelling as their childhood struggle for survival. Nancy returns, but her destiny of outstanding ordinariness (narrator's words, not mine) doesn't quite do it for me. Most of all, the writing that made the previous books so enjoyable and makes English rival any other language in beautiful prose is here unpolished and wordy to the point that many passages are downright difficult to understand. It's a good argument against post-humous publishing. There are some good points- I found the critical perspective of 1920s fashion novel and fun (flapper dresses are saggy, unflattering, and fit only for the beach), and although Rosamund leaves us hanging big-time, the ending for Rose and Mary is reasonably satisfying. Finally, though I can't in good faith recommend reading this book, through my disappointment and frustration I was still totally engrossed, to the point that I looked up and realized that my 2 hour layover and 4 hour flight had passed in a blink.

  • Zen Cho
    2018-11-01 21:05

    This was a funny one. It was so incredibly mannered it was ridiculous. All the characters sounded the same, and their dialogue was all equally unnatural. I don't remember the other Rebecca West book I read being so artificial. And it was so super obsessed with this dividing line between ordinary people and SPECIAL people (the main characters being the speshulest snowflakes ever).I really wanted to find out why Cousin Rosamund married the dude. I know they tell you in the afterword, but it isn't the same. And I still want that ending to have been written and for me to have read it even though I suspect it would have been spectacularly faily -- the description of her husband is so weirdly racialised. Also, she married him so she could be martyred in a concentration camp? I just ... Rebecca West. Dude. How could you think that was a good idea?And yet there's something there. West has a way of expressing feminist insights that feel particularly fresh, that seem to reveal something new about society, or really reveal something you already knew but in a way that makes it even more convincing. And feminist insight aside, the book was absorbing, I couldn't put it down. Mind you, British interwar women's fiction is the genre of my er not really heart, probably loins or something embarrassing like that, so I'm not sure that says much about it. But West had something. It's weird how obscure she is now.

  • Lucie Novak
    2018-11-11 18:01

    In the trilogy, I thought it got better with every book.I like the description of what goes in the heads of the two sisters, undoubtedly damaged by their unusual upbringing. They are very different to other women of their times.Rose and Mary, both successful pianists go through life and their emotions commenting on the other people in a very original way.The book is called Cousin Rosamund, but that character is weirdly absent from the story. SHe got married to a man the sisters do not like, and somehow, they feel they have lost her in a more definite way than the loss of their mother and brother who both died.The trilogy is very unusual, and I will definitely read more books by this author again soon.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-10-31 16:01

    This is not West's best book, as it is her last (and unfinished). The writing reflects a lack of revision and gets rangy at times, yet West's sharp perceptions of human nature are still quite alive here. At times she is hilariously nasty, as when she describes a man as looking like a fish wearing a toupee. But at other moments she treats human foibles with tenderness, and her description of coming into the experience of sexuality is true and even revelatory in the way that common elements of life can also be transformative.

  • Luann
    2018-10-31 16:58

    Final book in the triology. This one is a bit uneven but really rich in description and feels surprisingly modern for its time. If you love music and books about the artistic journey, the series is for you. In this final offering, Rose must grow up, face change and loss and learn how to let go as well as hold onto the things she loves most. I love the way West writes. Period.

  • Bettie☯
    2018-10-21 16:00

    Opening: NOTHING was ever so interesting again after Mamma and Richard Quin died. I cannot think that any two human beings have been more continuously amused and delighted than Mary and I had been after Cordelia had married and we were left alone with our mother and brother and Kate.

  • Yvonne
    2018-10-31 14:59

    The middle book of West's trilogy. Almost as strong as the first "The Fountain Overflows".

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-02 16:53

    I'm glad the edition I read included West's summary of the fourth book of the series (which she never had a chance to write), because, like Rose and the rest of her familiars, I was confused and saddened by Rosamund's choices throughout the book.It's a terrible shame West never finished the series. What she had planned for the end was certainly ambitious, but it would have been a marvel.

  • Clare
    2018-10-21 17:53

    This book took me ages to read, very dense about the meaning of music and art - in fact pretentious in places. However, I liked the series as a whole, very well-written and I wanted to know how Rose Aubrey got on. It finishes rather abruptly as RW died before the series finished.

  • Phrodrick
    2018-11-16 19:43

    Cousin Rosamund is Dame Rebecca West’s concluding book in her Saga of the Century trilogy. It is not up to her standards and can be very aggravating. The narrator, the no long pre-pubescent Rose Aubrey is like her twin sister Mary an accomplished, world traveling concert pianist. Adult as her life may be she is still immature and opinionated. She is unaware of the larger world and of her own humanity. What had been the precocious insights of the child has devolved into the too precious blatherings of a woman moving inside a highly protected cocoon. Unlike the previous books when Dame West knew exactly when turn the plot into a driving force that sweeps away the safe artificial world of her characters; Cousin Rosamund collapses into an obvious and conventional conclusion. If like me you do not like leaving a trilogy unfinished; that is about as much of a recommendation as I care to make.I remain a fan of Dame Rebecca West. So far I have only read her fiction and until Cousin Rosamund her other books earned my admiration. I have not yet read her non-fiction and I will not let this experience keep me from those books.In the first two books the Aubrey children and circle of friends deal with among other things gentile poverty and an unreliable if principled father. The narrator becomes a skilled pianist while other characters seek out their destinies as a nurse or house wife. There are events dramatic, the murder of a close family friend and tragic, the loss of the Aubrey parents.I am not sure what about these event are particular to the period roughly the Fin de siècle to this book the period between World War I and II. There are only barest of references people and events outside of the small circle of characters. There is mention of fashion, the more modern the less complementary. World War I does make a brief and dramatic appearance, but the same events could have been worked into the plot line of any of the mini wars of the Pax Britanica. How this justifies the trilogy as the Saga of the Century is not clear.And so to book 3, Cousin Rosamund. The Aubrey circle has addressed poverty, war, death and a few other excitements. The new generation is at work and one by one finding love. Two marriages, whatever their oddities are happy. Rose and sister Mary, the two are all but merged into one personality travel about doing concerts. Nothing much impede upon their separated status as artists and therefore not really involved in the real world of lessor beings. There is one private recital that never happens. Many pages are wasted on it. In it we get to spend time with a character who will suddenly become important and waste a lot of time on a young musical protégé who will never become important.Rosamund, of the title, a nurse and one of the most attractive of the personalities in this set is suddenly presented as married to a repellent nouveau riche and possibly crooked German. We are emphatically told he is not Jewish. In what was my favorite scene we get to see this oozing pretender next to a gently aging English aristocrat. It seemed as if Dame West was contrasting the classic, classy and gently crumbling British Empire and the looming threat of the rapacious and déclassé emerging German Nazis.Given the title of the book and the improbability of this marriage some explanation is necessary. Many pages on an awkward but promising girl musician, but nothing on the title character’s inexplicable choice.All that remains is one last resolution for the twins. Without spoiling it directly. The one is more of an evasion the other predictable and abrupt.

  • Patricia
    2018-11-03 19:46

    I loved the visit to the country house. West recreates the outrage of being rudely treated, but makes it wonderfully funny as well. The scene of looking out at the beautiful tree, in the midst of all the shock and fury, is one the loving and memorable depictions that light up her books. Some of the novel was hard going though. Rosamond's choices seemed just baffling. The afterword by Victoria Glendinning made me feel like I'd read a much better novel than I thought I had, so maybe I'll try it again sometime.

  • Penny
    2018-11-20 20:07

    I'm glad I persevered through this book. The first half really dragged and I wanted to quit and move on to something else. Then later on it changed direction and I was glad I hung in there. Then the afterward explained a lot to me, because this was actually the third part of a trilogy, so the book would have made much more sense if I had read the other two. Anyway, another crossed off my challenge list.

  • Kivrin
    2018-11-15 12:46

    I can see why Rebecca West never chose to publish this novel (or the middle book in the trilogy). It certainly wasn't as polished as the first book, and I was dreadfully disappointed with the ending...but I still enjoyed every moment I spent with the Aubreys.

  • Toast
    2018-10-31 15:42

    Nope not for me

  • Helen Mallon
    2018-10-21 14:55

    It's a little unfair to give this wonderful book only three stars, since West died before she could finish it. I so wanted to know why....Ah, but that's a spoiler!

  • Dorte
    2018-10-26 18:08

    The 3 stars should be taken with a grain of salt - it is never really fair to judge a book which the author never got to finish or to edit. A must read though if you have read the two first books.