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My Friend Monica

Jane Duncan

My Friend Monica, first published in 1960, is part of Jane Duncan’s acclaimed My Friends series but is also a delightful and distinctive novel in its own right.

It is the late 1940s in southern Scotland, a spartan time of rationing and enamel draining boards. Janet Sandison, recently demobbed, is marrying a mercurial engineer called Twice. As they search for a place to set up home together, Janet’s WAAF friend, Lady Monica Loame, steps elegantly and disruptively back into her life. She brings not only memories of the war years, the rubble-filled operations rooms and the countless mugs of whisky, but also a solution to their housing problem. (Click here to read.)

In a comedy that comes close to tragedy, this is a subtle study of the shifting dynamics of marriage and friendship. The supporting cast ranges from Mattha, a thrawn old stonemason, through Loose and Daze, the strophe and antistrophe of domestic help, to some ardent American visitors. For the finale, the action returns to Reachfar, Janet’s childhood home on the Black Isle.

This softback edition includes a new Afterword with excerpts from Jane Duncan’s wartime diary. The austerely elegant jacket illustration is by Kate Baylay, whose cover for My Friends the Miss Boyds has been such a success. (Go to http://www.katebaylay.com/ to see more of Kate’s work.) Below are some reviews of the first edition of My Friend Monica.

Miss Duncan is that rare creature, a born teller of stories. Add to this heaven-sent gift a mind as sharp as a scalpel, an uncommonly noticing eye for the absurd, pitiful and wilful eccentricities of human beings, and a very remarkable ear for the speaking voice. The talk of her people is spontaneous and direct, sharp-edged and startlingly frank. The loving and jealous conflict with Monica provides the background, admirably solid, for an exhilaratingly gay, light-hearted but not light-minded story.

Storm Jameson, The Sunday Times, 1960

The comedy is exuberant. We meet old friends again and Janet’s collection of originals is much enriched. A new awareness of the complexity of character makes us look forward more than ever to other Friends.

The Scotsman, 1960

Her characters clamour to be heard.

The Times Literary Supplement, 1960

For more information about the author, please visit our Jane Duncan page. For an excellent article on Jane Duncan’s life and writing by Catherine Deveney in Scotland on Sunday, click here.

cover
softback
dimensions
190x134mm, viii + 264 pp
list price
£12.50
ISBN
978 1 902173 320