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review 2020-06-07 13:33
Thomasina (Essential Modern Classics) - Paul Gallico

by Paul Gallico


I saw the movie long before I read the book, but it was a favorite in my childhood. The basic story is the same but a lot of the details are different. I've tried to imagine how I would have received the book if I had read it first, but find it impossible not to contrast it with the movie experience.


Mary MacDhui lives in a village in Scotland and loves her cat, Thomasina. Her father is the local vet, though he really wanted to be a doctor. Both are strong personalities and very stubborn.


When Thomasina is hurt in an accident, her father disappoints Mary so deeply that it looks as if she'll never recover. I won't go into details in case someone who has never read the book or seen the film runs into spoilers. The story made a good Disney film with strong characters and an unusual plot for a cat story. As a cat person, I can easily identify with Mary, even though she's a child.


The setting adds a lot of charm and part of the story is narrated by Thomasina herself. I enjoyed reading it again, despite being an adult. It is, however, a thing of its time. Some of the human reactions are less than fully believable and it is unintentionally misogynistic. The Gypsies are portrayed in a bad light and the plot continuity isn't nearly as good in the book as it is in the movie.


I'm glad I read it, but I think this is the last time for me.

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text 2019-09-21 00:32
Reading progress update: I've read 329 out of 329 pages.
Rule Britannia (Virago Modern Classics Book 120) - Daphne du Maurier,Ella Westland

So much to think about. It's been quite a ride. And to top it off, it did include a mystery, too!


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text 2019-09-20 23:24
Reading progress update: I've read 266 out of 329 pages.
Rule Britannia (Virago Modern Classics Book 120) - Daphne du Maurier,Ella Westland

Amazingly, the book I was anticipating with mixed feelings has turned out to be one of the highlights of this year's Halloween Bingo for me. 


Mileage may vary, but I love what Du Maurier has done here. She's taken the whole "it couldn't happen here" attitude and told exactly that story, while masterfully showing up imperialism works and how oppression creates a breakdown in civility. Then you're left with a back-and-forth of punishment and retaliation.


I know that some other BookLikers are looking to read this book, so I will put the quote below in spoilers (it does give away part of the plot). However, let me say that I am making another cup of tea and am set on finishing this before morning.


Together they stood at the window, looking out upon the bay. There were lights everywhere, the lights of rescue craft searching the sea, and overhead the roar of helicopters, and searchlights too, sweeping the spot where the ship had lain.

‘Judgement Day,’ murmured Mad, ‘but for how many?’

‘It’s horrible,’ whispered Emma, ‘horrible …’

Yet she could not drag her eyes away. The darting lights seemed to bob and circle over a particular patch of oil caught in the searchlight beam, and the lights of the helicopters hovered like gigantic moths, now dipping, now rising again.

‘Poor devils,’ said Mad, turning away. ‘One thing, they must have gone instantaneously, whoever was on board,’ and from force of habit she began turning down her bed, switching on the electric blanket.

Why devils, Emma wondered. Was it a term one used automatically when enemies were wounded or killed? Had it been normal times, the ship at anchor a British or a European vessel waiting for the tide before entering Poldrea harbour to load clay, and a sudden explosion had taken place, blowing the ship to pieces in this way, Mad, despite her age, would have been down there on the cliffs, on the beach, and Emma too, and the boys, in hopes of struggling seamen finding their way ashore. Not tonight. No aid from Trevalan tonight. Whoever clung to a burning spar, whoever tried to swim, maimed and helpless in the choking oil, was alien, did not belong. Them and us …

(spoiler show)


This book is DARK and unsettling without being gory and Du Maurier even in her last book had not lost her knack for creating an atmosphere that draws me into the story.

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text 2019-09-20 21:37
Reading progress update: I've read 209 out of 329 pages.
Rule Britannia (Virago Modern Classics Book 120) - Daphne du Maurier,Ella Westland

Emma fetched the car and picked Mad up in front of the chemist’s, and they stopped at the road-block for their passes to be scrutinised once again. Mr Libby, the landlord of the Sailor’s Rest, was talking to the marine on duty. He waited for the formalities to finish, then stepped forward and bent his head to the car window.

‘Good morning,’ he said.‘I think I have something that would please you both. I’m not letting on to everyone, mind you.’

His tone was confidential.

‘They deputy commander of the camp here is a most obliging gentleman. What I say is this, if you do your best for them, they do their best for you.’

He glanced over his shoulder.

‘How about a case of Californian wine?’ he murmured.

‘Sorry,’ said Mad, ‘it’s against my principles.’

Mr Libby opened his eyes wide.

‘No hanky-panky, I promise you. It’s all above board. No duty to pay. We’re to import it in large quantities, and this happens to be the first consignment. You’ll find it much sweeter on the palate than the French stuff you usually have.’

‘Mr Libby,’ said Mad, ‘when I come to you asking for Californian wine you will know I’ve got tired of drinking my own bath-water at home. Drive on, Emma.’

She turned to her grand-daughter as they shot up the hill. ‘I meant it too. Californian wine my foot! So Vic was right. What else are we going to be forced to consume, is what I ask myself. Teabags forever, I suppose … and those terrible clams.’

I love Mad.

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text 2019-09-20 19:19
Reading progress update: I've read 130 out of 329 pages.
Rule Britannia (Virago Modern Classics Book 120) - Daphne du Maurier,Ella Westland

Oh, this has just escalated to a new point of crisis. 


Gripping stuff.

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