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Mary Wesley was born near Windsor in 1912. Her education took her to the London School of Economics and during the War she worked in the War Office. Although she initially fulfilled her parents' expectations in marrying an aristocrat she then scandalised them when she divorced him in 1945 and moved in with the great love of her life, Eric Siepmann. The couple married in 1952, once his wife had finally been persuaded to divorce him. She used to comment that her 'chief claim to fame is arrested development, getting my first novel Jumping the Queue published at the age of seventy'. She went on to write a further nine novels, three of which were adapted for television, including the best-selling The Camomile Lawn. Mary Wesley was awarded the CBE in the 1995 New Year's honour list and died in 2002.
June 2014 Guest Editor Freya North on Not That Sort of Girl... Mary Wesley, Rose Tremain, Barbara Trapido and Jane Gardam – I really do owe my career to them. But this book in particular really did change the course of my life. I read it during my finals at University after which I headed off to do an MA and was all set to start a PhD in Art History. But deep down I knew that all I really wanted to do was write fiction. I love the way that Mary Wesley marries gentle romance with quite surprising sexiness in all her novels – but here in particular. For over fifty years, Rose is loyal to her husband Ned while also maintaining a relationship Milo. I loved the way this novel puts our perception of morality in a centrifuge – there’s nothing dissolute or duplicitous about either of Rose’s relationships, rather it’s about enduring love. This book really proves how commercial fiction can be deceptively simply – a pleasure to read through the clever, beautifully written and thoughtfully woven layers.