Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wild Mary: The Life Of Mary Wesley” as Want to Read:
Wild Mary: The Life Of Mary Wesley
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wild Mary: The Life Of Mary Wesley

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  171 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Mary Wesley published her first novel at seventy and went on to write a further nine bestsellers, including the legendary The Camomile Lawn, in a style best described as arsenic without the old lace. Many of her stories were inspired by her experiences during the Blitz, and by her marriages: the first to an aristocrat, a brief and conventional affair, and the second to a p ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 3rd 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wild Mary, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Wild Mary

Confessions by Jean-Jacques RousseauWill in the World by Stephen GreenblattCharles Dickens by Claire TomalinI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouA Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Literary biographies
180th out of 339 books — 54 voters
Poldark's Cornwall by Winston GrahamVanishing Cornwall by Daphne du MaurierRebecca by Jennifer Leigh WellsWild Mary by Patrick MarnhamThe levelling sea  by Philip Marsden
Books Set in Cornwall - Non Fiction
1st out of 8 books — 4 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 304)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Rachel
Oct 12, 2010 Rachel rated it it was ok
I wanted to award more stars for the subject, and less stars for the awful writing of the biography.

Mary Wesley was a complex and troubled character. Her story is a rollicking one: a cast of lovers, two marriages, riches and poverty, and a late successful career as a writer.

However I am rather aghast at the dreadful writing of her biographer. My objections are two-fold: firstly his treatment of the subject and the major themes in her life. An incredible over emphasis on her sex life during the
...more
Lara
Jul 29, 2014 Lara rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Though I don't remember the contents, I do remember reading Mary Wesley's novels when they were first published on the recommendation of my mother. She, only 12 years younger than Mary, was entertained by the author's bohemian lifestyle and entranced by the idea of someone making a new and successful life in her seventies. There is hope for us all...

So I was intrigued to read this biography, and fascinated by Mary's eventful life. More or less abandoned by her upper-crust family who went to live
...more
Kim Stallwood
Aug 27, 2014 Kim Stallwood rated it really liked it
An interesting biography about the novelist Mary Wesley. My affection for her novel, The Camomile Lawn, prompted me to read it. I came to this novel through its telly adaptation that's excellent. The Camomile Lawn is a great story with fascinating characters. I find it interesting to read about writers and particularly with Mary Wesley to learn how her life influenced her creativity. She came to be a very successful author late in her life. Wild Mary, which was authorised by Mary Wesley, chronic ...more
Leenda dela Luna
May 23, 2011 Leenda dela Luna rated it did not like it
Hated it. Too many British (??) names, titles & places to follow. I gave up 1/2 way through.
Belle
Jan 29, 2015 Belle rated it it was ok
I found this hard going at times and it took me longer than I expected to finish it. I found the writing hard to follow and frequently found myself having to go back and forth to find my bearings or to remind myself of a person. Obviously Mary Wesley lived in a different time and she was the product of a class system that I can't relate to but despite my best efforts I didnt particularly find her likeable because she frequently came across as extremely selfish and sometimes rather spoilt.

Having
...more
Kathy
Oct 27, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it
Hmm. Obviously I need to add "biography" to my shelves. And this is quite the bio, demonstrating that neither trauma nor complicated sexual affairs were invented by the current generation. The friend who lent me this one also gave/lent me a number of Wesley's novels, and they definitely make sense in the context of her life.

She published her first novel at 70. Yep, seventy years old. She lived into her early 90's, and was apparently quite popular during the 1980's when most of her novels came ou
...more
Anne
Apr 14, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
I liked Mary Wesley's books when I read them a long time ago and found it very inspiring that she didn't get published until she was 70 and then got on and wrote more and more books. This biography is very well named, she certainly did live a wild life. It was interesting to read about the way she chose to live, particularly during World War II, can't help thinking though that she did lead a very privileged life and somehow, even though she had children and, after she'd married Eric, she lived i ...more
Carol Lovekin
Jan 08, 2016 Carol Lovekin rated it it was amazing
Stunning & inspirational.
I read this book years ago & lost it.
Wonderful to be reunited. Mary Wesley is a legend.
Lisa
May 08, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
While I won't say this is the most stunningly written biography I've ever read, Wesley's life was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages, even if not compulsively. Since I'm looking at it from a research POV, I appreciated the fact that most of the book involved her life before she became a writer -- there's plenty of post-publication documentation on the record. Still, he did a very thorough job and her voice comes through the narrative, which is a good thing.

Now I'm stoked to get back
...more
Sarah
Jan 26, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
I found this biography a little difficult to read. It jumped all over the place in terms of time, and I would have found a time-line reference really helpful. I persevered as i LOVE Mary Wesley so much, and did find her life fascinating.

I rented the BBC version of the Camomile Lawn as Calypso is supposed to be the character which most represents her. I would recommend this to Mary Wesley enthusiasts, or folks interested in learing about life in Britain during the 2nd world war.
Lily
Oct 04, 2014 Lily rated it liked it
What an interesting life Mary Wesley led, so far removed from my own experience it was hard to connect with it. I'm afraid Marnham didn't make an easy read of it, providing a lot of detail and history of minor characters, not necessarily adding anything useful to my understanding of Wesley.
Karlie
Apr 26, 2013 Karlie rated it liked it
My aunt lent me this book. I hadn't heard of Mary Wesley before but the book, and the lady, sounded very interesting. Mary did have a very interesting life. I especially enjoyed the parts during WWII. However I don't like the style of the author's writing. Very choppy and seems unedited.
Steve
Sep 06, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
Writing style a little stilted to my mind and took a little while to get going, but other than that a very good read - fascinating biog. of a very interesting woman, and an excellent insight into the changes in society over the course of the twentieth century.
Veronica
Apr 12, 2009 Veronica rated it it was ok
Have read only first half. It was a mildly interesting read but suspect this genre is not for me however I have really enjoyed her novels and it seems she has got many of her characters and situations from her own life.
Ruth Pellegrini
Mar 28, 2010 Ruth Pellegrini rated it it was amazing
I love Mary Wesley - have done since I read them all when they first came out in my late teens/early twenties. Have recently re-read them all and enjoyed them even more! This is almost more fun than the actual books!
Hannah
Jul 27, 2012 Hannah rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this book. It will be one of my all time favorites. Brilliant biography. What an astonishing woman. I have now ordered A Dubious Legacy and The Camomile Lawn to read.
Tracey  Wilde
Nov 11, 2008 Tracey Wilde rated it it was amazing
An amazing woman with an amazing life. Having read a lot of her books I can see from this biography that a lot of things were from her own life. Recommended.
Dee
Dec 27, 2013 Dee rated it liked it
Not the most well written biography I have read, but the subject made it a worthwhile read. I love Mary's books and was eager to find out more about her.
Chris Phillips
Jan 19, 2009 Chris Phillips rated it really liked it
very interesting.

She actually KNEW a Viscount Ellibank whom I have correspondence with in the 1950's!

I understand Chamomile lawn better now!

Kate Brown
Nov 05, 2011 Kate Brown rated it really liked it
Wildly enjoyable, and a fascinating insight to the life of a remarkable woman who defied the conventions of her time to live life on her terms.
Kevin Hayes
Aug 18, 2007 Kevin Hayes rated it liked it
I've got a thing about eccentric English society types (can't wait for an Izzy Blow biography) and this really hit the spot.
Roshana
Feb 28, 2008 Roshana rated it really liked it
great biography of Mary Wesley - which highlghts the changes in attitudes to women amongst the upper classes.
Juliana Graham
Jul 30, 2011 Juliana Graham rated it it was ok
Quite disappointing. She had a very exciting life but this book recounted it like an historical text book.
Jess
May 14, 2010 Jess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, favourites
Loved all of Mary Wesley's books and was very interested to read her biography...an interesting woman
Michelle Long
Dec 15, 2012 Michelle Long rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Fabulous book. Wildly entertaining and a very fun read. Couldn't put it down.
Marilyn
Jan 05, 2009 Marilyn rated it liked it
Biography of Mary Wesley -- fascinating life.
Monkeyboyzmum
Nov 04, 2013 Monkeyboyzmum rated it liked it
Shelves: library
fascinating but not easy to read
Nicky
Nicky rated it liked it
Jan 30, 2016
Judy
Judy rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2016
Hina S
Hina S added it
Jan 25, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais
  • Part Of The Furniture
  • To War with Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-1945
  • Slipstream: A Memoir
  • Muriel Spark: The Biography
  • Montaigne
  • Inventing Wonderland: the Lives and Fantasies of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, J.M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame and A.A. Milne
  • Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes
  • Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice
  • Edith Wharton
  • The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination
  • Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education
  • A Circle of Sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne-Jones, Agnes Poynter and Louisa Baldwin
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood
  • Henry James: A Life
  • Pre-Raphaelites in Love
  • The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws

Share This Book