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The Third Miss Symons

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3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Henrietta Symons is the third daughter in a large Victorian family, a misfit with neither charm nor beauty. Querulous and bad-tempered, she watches as her life passes aimlessly by, clinging to her one saving grace—she knows herself for what she is, and self-knowledge, however bitter, turns her life of defeat into a kind of victory.
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Published (first published 1913)
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Jane
The story of a Victorian spinster. A surplus woman. A life unlived.

It doesn’t sound compelling, and yet it is: The Third Miss Symons set tied me up in knots.

Henrietta, known to her family as Etta, was a fifth child and a third daughter, and was to be followed by more children.

“A large family should be a specially happy community, but it sometimes occurs that there is a boy or a girl who is nothing but a middle one, fitting in nowhere.”

And so it was with Etta. Partly because of her position in th
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Bree (AnotherLookBook)
A novella about a woman who is neither charming nor beautiful, whose temper alienates her from her large Victorian family, and who watches as her life passes her by.

Full review at Another Look Book

Reminded me of:
- Frances Hodgson Burnett (Emily Fox-Seton, aka A Lady of Quality/The Making of a Marchioness)
- Winifred Watson (Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day)
- Jane Austen (Mansfield Park)
- Vita Sackville-West (All Passion Spent)
- Tracy Chevalier (Falling Angels)
- Sylvia Townsend Warner (Lolly Willowe
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Phoebes
The Third Miss Symons è stata davvero una bella lettura. Anche se parlava di una donna vissuta più di un secolo fa, e per fortuna le cose per noi donne da allora sono un po’ cambiate, resta comunque sempre attuale per la sua descrizione della vita di una persona, fondamentalmente, sola. Lo stile di Mayor non scade mai però nel patetico e nel melodrammatico, riuscendo anzi a mischiare l’ironia alla malinconia, per cui alla fine il romanzo non risulta triste come potrebbe sembrare, ma simpatico, s ...more
Karen Chung
This title caught my eye as I was skimming through a list of Librivox recommendations for Women’s History Month, March 2012.

This novel is unlike any other that I have read. It is the story of a mid-Victorian woman with enough income from her father that she doesn't need to work. In all of her life, she never succeeds in moving beyond her constant self-absorption to really care about others, or at least be pleasant around them, so they aren't compelled to avoid her.

There are parts I can somewhat
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Mrsgaskell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
CuteBadger
This is a strange, short book about a prickly woman who does nothing much with her life. Miss Symons has a family who don't seem to like her much, has her only chance at marriage stolen away by her sister, doesn't enjoy doing good works and travels in Europe as a way more of escaping from herself than as a means of learning about other countries and their ways.

Miss Symons is not only strange, but she's an "odd" woman in the sense of not being paired with a man as contemporary society expected an
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Jim Leckband
A tale of the life of an unpleasant, boring Victorian woman. F. M. Mayor pulls off a miracle in making this unlikely premise into a very interesting book. Henrietta is pompous, bigoted, nasty, selfish and always misunderstood (at least she thinks she is - she is usually all well too understood.)

I found myself wondering at what purpose Mayor had in constructing such an unlikable character - what was being illuminated? There are several answers that I came up with. The first as a satire on the ten
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SarahC
Mayor's story is solely an examination of Etta, a Victorian lady, an eternal daughter and sister, who yearns to define herself and live a fuller life, but does not know how. She is upper middle class, refined, critical, and unpleasant. She was raised by uninterested and uninteresting parents within a large family, among sisters who found their entrance into adult life by their charm and beauty and "marrying well." Etta remains single, manages the family home in part, travels, and remains static ...more
Kathleen
This is a very sad and depressing book; I can't say I enjoyed it much. It did made me very thankful I have such a close and loving family, unlike Etta in this book.
Jae
Reading Virago Modern Classics is a joy, and this is another great writer I've discovered. A small masterpiece of characterisation by F.M Mayor.
Roberta
The Third Miss Symons è la storia di Henrietta (Etta) Symons, dalla nascita fino alla morte, condensata in più o meno centocinquanta pagine, lunghezza che lo colloca più nel reame delle novelle che in quello dei romanzi. Henrietta nasce come terza figlia femmina della famiglia Symons, quinta figlia in generale, e comunque non ultima. Etta non è particolarmente bella, né aggraziata, né dotata di qualità, ma non è nemmeno particolarmente brutta o sgradevole. La sua unica sfortuna è quella di esser ...more
Janet
Henrietta ‘Etta’ Symons is the titular Miss Symons in this short chronological novel by F M Mayor, who is probably better known for The Rector’s Daughter. Etta is the third daughter in a large, upper-middle class Victorian family. She’s overlooked by her family and is a loner, despite initially having a great capacity for love and desiring affection.

The novel follows Etta from birth to death – she never really makes much of an impression on life. Her one attempt at finding love is thwarted and
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Karen
“A large family should be a specially happy community, but it sometimes occurs that there is a boy or a girl who is nothing but a middle one, fitting in nowhere.”

Such a one is Henrietta Symons. Longing to be loved, she becomes essentially little loved by anyone. Surrounded by relatives and friends of no particular genius, she fails to find lasting companionship or peace in her life that is in any way comparable to the people around her, and largely this is due to her own failure at grasping the
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Dave
Realistic story of an unpleasant person. Great prose - tight and concise. Addresses the question: was she unloved because she was unlovable, or was she unlovable because she was unloved?
Laura
Mayor weaves a completely absorbing study of Henrietta, thwarted by her era, her family, and her own flawed character from winning the love she craves. Over the decades, she accommodates herself to a life without purpose or meaning. The genius of the novel is how it makes the reader empathize with Henrietta, without asking us to like her or even pity her. The characters and story are thoroughly human. I especially appreciate a novel that doesn't end the account of the "heroine" at age 30 or even ...more
Helen Kitson
The rather sad tale of awkward, quarrelsome spinster Henrietta, who can't find her place in life. In middle age she spends her time moving from place to place abroad, feeling always the odd woman out, but she is not a sympathetic character, people don't like her, so she is always unhappy. She has some insight into her personality defects, but seems incapable of doing anything about them. [March 2005]
Mebhe
J'ai bien aimé Henrietta, petite peste irascible et anti-conformiste par la force des choses.
Nadyne
A beautiful book, with lively depicted characters...
Iris
3.5 stars. Review to follow.
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aka Mary Strafford

Flora Macdonald Mayor was an English novelist and short story writer who published under the name F. M. Mayor.

Mayor's father, Joseph Bickersteth Mayor (1828-1916), was an Anglican clergyman and professor of classics and then of moral philosophy at King's College London; her mother, Alexandrina Jessie Grote (1830-1927),[1:] was niece of the utilitarian George Grote as well as the
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More about F.M. Mayor...
The Rector's Daughter Miss de Mannering of Asham The Squire's Daughter Tertulians Apology The Virago Book of Ghost Stories

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“They went to Italy. Neither of them cared in the smallest degree for sculpture, architecture, painting, archaeology, poetry, history, politics, scenery, languages, or foreigners.” 2 likes
“And perhaps she loved him all the more because he was not soaring high above her, like all her previous divinities, but walking side by side with her. Yes, she loved him; by the time he had asked her for the third dance she loved him.” 1 likes
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