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Dusty Answer

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  324 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Dusty Answer is Judith Earle's story—her solitary childhood spent in the seclusion of her riverside house, her awkward, intense experiences at Cambridge rounded with passion and disillusionment, and her travels abroad with her elegant, socialite mother. Above all, this novel is about Judith's consuming relationship with the Fyfe family, who each fall in love with Judith, t ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Virago UK (first published 1927)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 840)
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Margaret
This was Lehmann's first novel, published in 1927 when she was just 26. Sales were initially slow, and not much critical notice was taken of the book until Alfred Noyes gave it a glowing review in the Sunday Times, making Dusty Answer a bestseller almost overnight.

Its heroine, Judith Earle, is an intelligent, earnest girl who becomes entangled in the lives of five cousins who have occasionally visited at the house next door to Judith's; Judith played with them as a child, and years later, comes
...more
Denis
A forgotten British classic that for some reasons has always been popular in some parts of Europe - it seems never to have been out of print in France. -The prose is exquisite, Lehmann's gift with the English language is amazing and you want to remember most of her sentences for their sheer beauty and the emotions they convey. It's also one of the most beautiful, tender, and melancholic books ever written about adolescence and loss, and it captures the fleeting, elusive complexities of this time ...more
Misha
“Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul/When hot for certainties in this our life!”–George Meredith

My father-in-law introduced me to Rosamond Lehmann. He sent me a copy of “The Heart of Me,” a film starring Paul Bettany, Olivia Williams and Helena Bonham Carter, a film based on Lehmann’s novel The Echoing Grove. Rosamond Lehmann was a British, 20th-century author who wrote incisively about women’s interior lives. Her writing is deft, accomplished, and, at times, a little melodramatic. Her charac
...more
Mariel
Apr 05, 2015 Mariel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: international tennis stars looking for a mistress
Recommended to Mariel by: kissing cousins up their own butts
"You don't," she said petulantly. "Because you've never troubled to find out what I'm really like. It's never occurred to you there might be anything more than what you see. That's so like a man.... Lord, how stupid! Everybody dismissed with a little label. Everybody taken for granted once they've passed a few idiotic conventional tests...."


Dusty Answer is a black pot calling another black pot black situation. Little girl Judith romanticizes the four teens living with their grandmother during ho
...more
Leonie
Outside, where the gentle dusk glimmered on rain-wet branches, the bird-calls were like sudden pale jets of light, coming achingly to the mind; and all at once the sun, like a bell, struck out a poignant richness, a long dark-golden evening note with tears in it, searching all the land with its fullness and dying slowly into a obscurer twilight. The tree-tops were quiet against the sky. There was no leaf upon them: yet, in that liquid mauve air, they stirred in her a sudden soft pang, a beating ...more
Margot
There is some books, stories or even characters that you put in the corner of your mind, in the corner of your heart and they follow your everywhere you go. Judith and Roddy follow me everywhere. Rosamond Lehmann isn't well-known here (not for the common readers at least) and I discovered the book thanks to "Atonement" by Ian McEwan (who mentions the book in the novel when a journalist compares Briony's story to "Dusty Answer"). I was curious and chased down the book. There was no more publicati ...more
Ali
Oh my I loved this novel. It is amazing to think that this novel first published in 1927 was Rosamund Lehmann's first novel. It is so beautifully written, passionate and finely observed. The voices of these young people resonate wonderfully. Their manner of speech could seem affected and odd in these modern times, and yet it serves to demonstrate and bring to life for us now, the times and emotional confusions of so many young people between the wars. This novel must have caused quite a stir upo ...more
Margot
There is some books, stories or even characters that you put in the corner of your mind, in the corner of your heart and they follow your everywhere you go. Judith and Roddy follow me everywhere. Rosamond Lehmann isn't well-known here (not for the common readers at least) and I discovered the book thanks to "Atonement" by Ian McEwan (who mentions the book in the novel when a journalist compares Briony's story to "Dusty Answer"). I was curious and chased down the book. There was no more publicati ...more
Mary
I loved this book of young love.
Judith Earle has always been in love with each of her four cousins.
Summers spent playing outside in the countryside.
All will change when Judith goes to Cambridge college and meets Jennifer!
A coming of age novel where one learns who to love and trust.
It's hard to believe this was Rosamond's first novel.
I will be looking out for more of her wonderful books.
Mel
I bought this because apparently the sexuality of the main character, being attracted to both men and women, made it quite scandalous. As I'm fascinated by her gay sister I thought it might give an interesting insight into the period. Unfortunately, I just found it a little dull. The problem with the book was that it just felt totally juvenile. The part where they were teenagers felt like they were children, the part where she was at university felt like she was away at boarding school. The male ...more
Briana
Ugh. I like a lot of English literature from the interwar period, but I really hated this book. The narrator was a total twit.
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama:
Rosamund Lehmann's first novel Dusty Answer records the education of Judith Earle, the only child of an academic father and socialite mother. Judith grew up in the seclusion of a large riverside house in the Thames Valley. The house next door is occupied from time to time by the Fyfe family whose children - cousins Charlie, Roddy, Julian and Martin drift in and out of her life.
Bryan
Oh, Judith. Judith, Judith, Judith. I love you, I am you and all your foolhardy ways. I really liked this book because Judith is basically cool as cucumber on the outside and a hot mess emotionally inside. The story is slow at parts (I basically could have done without the middle section about how awesome Jennifer is), but worth it in the end. If you don't find yourself screaming out loud "Judith, NO! DON'T!!!!" at one point, then you need mental help.
Bettie☯
May 03, 2015 Bettie☯ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00thwrr

Description: Rosamund Lehmann's first novel Dusty Answer records the education of Judith Earle, the only child of an academic father and socialite mother. Judith grew up in the seclusion of a large riverside house in the Thames Valley. The house next door is occupied from time to time by the Fyfe family whose children - cousins Charlie, Roddy, Julian and Martin drift in and out of her life.

Part One sees Judith reminiscing about her childhood where the seed
...more
Janey
Oh this started so well and then collapsed into a morass of sentimentality and over-description! Two and a half stars - it was a first novel...
Chiara Tinelli
Ripenso a quando ho visto per la prima volta la copertina di questo libro e ho automaticamente pensato: Non lo leggerò mai. Per fortuna qualcosa nella trama deve avermi colpita, altrimenti non avrei superato le prime venti, noiose pagine e non avrei scoperto uno dei migliori romanzi che io abbia mai letto.
Non aspettatevi una trama sconvolgente o colpi di scena rocamboleschi: Rosamond Lehmann riesce ad ammaliare con una storia semplice, anzi, una storia quasi piatta.
Judith Earle, la sua eroina, è
...more
Roberta
Dusty Answer è la cronaca della formazione sentimentale della bella e intelligente Judith, dai primi turbamenti adolescenziali al suo ingresso nella vita 'adulta'. Judith è una figlia unica, educata in casa dal padre, e quindi con poche possibilità di relazionarsi con persone della sua età. Quando la signora della casa accanto inizia ad ospitare, saltuariamente, i nipoti (un gruppo di cinque persone, fratelli e cugini: Julian, Charlie, Mariella, Roddy e Martin) Judith inizia a frequentarli, idea ...more
Deb
I found this book on a “if you like Downton Abbey” list and lo and behold, it showed up on my library’s book sale rack! So I had a good little 25-cent read.

Written in 1927, it’s not a classic exactly, although I wonder if it has shown up on any women’s studies syllabi. It’s essentially a coming-of-age story about shy, studious Judith Earle, who is captivated by the intense, mysterious set of cousins living next door to her. She falls in love with Roddy, who to the reader is clearly gay, and is o
...more
Yves
Great work of art - I had already read Invitation to the Waltz a long time ago, and having read Dusty Answer (her first book, I understand), I now know R. Lehmann is a major novelist. The main pleasure comes from the incredible analysis of the characters' psychology. There is a masterful understanding of what starts and maintains the feelings of desire, envy, jealousy, melancholy and despair. The group of young things that compose the story are all wrapped up in a whirlwind of thoughts and passi ...more
Elizabeth Fremantle
I loved this book – yes, it is flawed; yes, it flags a little in the middle; yes, the protagonist is at times unappealing (hence 4 stars rather than 5) BUT it captivated me entirely.

Set primarily in the 1920s, the novel tells of Judith Earle, a clever, closeted child growing up in relative isolation, and it is only the houseful of cousins (of each other, not her) next door that provides her with anything resembling a social existence. So it is inevitable that she will fall for one of the four b
...more
Annette Boehm
I really enjoyed this book. Rosamond Lehmann's first, this novel caused quite a stir when it came out, due to its subversive (for the time) approach to homosexuality. It's also just really interesting to read, with engaging characters and a unique voice.
To read an in-depth post about this book, visit my blog here: https://outsideofacat.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/dusty-answer-rosamond-lehmann/
Amy
At times, this book was dry (as dust)(ha!)(sorry), but I loved Judith. In the beginning of the book, she is quiet and awkward in most normal social situations, paralyzed by her own shyness and self-consciousness. She is then prone to reflect upon her social interactions with the Fyfes with soul crushing mortification and/or jubilant elation. Basically, me every day. As the story progresses, she spends time with her unintentionally hilarious mother, goes to Cambridge, forms some VERY close friend ...more
Micebyliz
A novel of young love and social conformity,
Dusty Answer is a relic and yet some of it rings true for today. A young girl trying to fit in a clique, trying to discover love.
i wish this novel had explored more deeply the gay characters instead of just alluding to it because knowing who you are is the key to understanding yourself and others.
Rym
I read this book ages ago( may be 25 years ago ) all I can remember is the great feeling that I had about it, I remember being moved by its sadness
All I can say is that this book stayed in my memory hidden in a corner, although I can't remember all the details I only remember a great feeling , I will have to read it again
Paula
I'm adding this here because I just finished the abridged audio and I want to make a note to consider reading it in the future. Seemed like an entertaining story, and the writing is beautiful.
Helen Kitson
Jun 25, 2012 Helen Kitson added it
Shelves: vmc, fiction
Not easy to get into – a strange first section just recapping the past (or, rather, the children next door) though there are some nice bits of writing. I like the section where Judith goes to Cambridge. And the sheer nastiness with which Mabel is described, even though I’m sure I ought to feel sorry for her. Very well structured, excellent ending, just right. But the bit I most enjoyed was the section where Judith is a Cambridge undergrad. And Mabel is by far the most memorable character for me. ...more
Lois Tuffield
A sad story about a young girl's obsession with the family next door.
Béatrice
Dec 30, 2014 Béatrice rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Béatrice by: Marie
Délicieusement suranné, mais fine psychologie
Johanne
I didn't finish this one :( - I really couldn't bear it anymore. There is no real plot, no action, no believable characters. In short, nothing to keep my interest or attention. I have read that this is a forgotten classic - I'm not surprised that it has been forgotten, I'm sure I'll soon forget it as there is no substance to it therefore nothing to remember!
It got one star because there is some lovely writing - shame that it wasn't saying anything at the time.
Christine Cather
Judith has all the projections and fantasies that a lonely rich young person who has been sheltered from the real world may have had in the '20's.
The prose is beautiful and makes you stop in your tracks, which I love. She has gay characters and bisexual feelings, which got her into trouble at the time.
The ending was not happy, not to spoil it,- because the reader is glad about that.I'd recommend it cos she makes you pause and think.
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Rosamond Nina Lehmann was born in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, as the second daughter of Rudolph Lehmann and his wife Alice Davis, a New Englander. Her father Rudolph Chambers Lehmann was a liberal MP, and editor of the Daily News. John Lehmann (1907-1989) was her brother; one of her two sisters was the famous actress Beatrix Lehmann.

In 1919 she went to Girton College, University of Cambridge to r
...more
More about Rosamond Lehmann...
Invitation to the Waltz The Weather in the Streets The Echoing Grove The Ballad and the Source A Note in Music

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