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Cluny Brown

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,314 ratings  ·  248 reviews
Shortly before WWII 20-year-old orphan is sent by her uncle Mr. Porritt, a plumber, into "good service" on a country estate. One of the precipitating events was her having tea at the Ritz. Obviously didn't know her place! How worrisome! Lovely, thoughtful, full of marvelous characters and an abundance of humor. ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published February 1st 1982 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1944)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,314 ratings  ·  248 reviews


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Jaline
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
Note: I see that when I originally posted this to my shelf (book was read in March) I forgot to include my little review. I was quite taken with Margery Sharp's writing and hope to read more:

Author's Quote added: "I absolutely believe it is fatal ever to write below your best, even if what you write may never be published."

This was my first experience with the writing of Margery Sharp and I am sure it will not be the last. The style of writing is classic, literary, and so real that I was subtly
...more
Jane
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have been utterly charmed by Cluny Brown.

She’s a girl who never does anything that’s exactly wrong; but she’s also a girl who never really does anything that is usual or expected.

She simply followed her heart; oblivious to the strictures that hold most people back.

One day she took herself out to tea at the Ritz; another day she stayed in bed, eating oranges, because she read in a magazine that it would give her vitality.

To many Cluny was a breath of fresh air; but to her Uncle Arn she was a wo
...more
Diane Barnes
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
The best way to describe this book is to say that it was a lot of fun. Sheer delight to read, great characters, a plot that never goes where you think it should, and a wonderful conclusion with a twist I never saw coming, but was absolutely perfect. A humorous version of Downton Abbey, if you will. Except that Lady Carmel, perfect as she was, was no dowager as played by Maggie Smith. But then, no one is.

Margery Sharp must now be added to that list of English women authors that are my go-to when
...more
Mo
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Recommended
I checked this book out of the library, blew the dust off of the book jacket, and opened it to the cover page. I smiled to read the notice from the library that ”A fine of two cents a day will be charged on each book which is not returned according to the rules of the library.” It set the mood for the nostalgia and innocence that was to come.

I was charmed within the first few pages of this novel, and the smile pretty much stayed on my face the whole time I was reading it. I enjoyed the wide-eye
...more
Mary Durrant
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book!
For the past few days I've been in the world of Cluny Brown.
Cluny, who's real name is Clover goes into service in a house in Devon.
A far cry from London where she has been brought up by her Uncle.
I was soon engrossed in the story and wanted to know what was going to happen to Cluny.
The ending was totally unexpected and I didn't see it coming.
Very well written with wonderful characters.
A dog called Roderick , a Polish professor, Betty Cream , Mr Porritt, Mr Ames, Mr Wilson.
C
...more
Arpita (BagfullofBooks)

The Charming and Unusual Story of Cluny Brown

'Cluny Brown' by Margery Sharp was just as quirky, just as delightful and just as thoughtful as Sharp's other books. The book leads us through the life of an unusual girl who prefers to tread down the unconventional path in life.

In the story we are introduced to an orphaned young lady called Cluny Brown. She's quite an interesting character, memorable, like Sharp's other protagonists.

But she has one serious fault- she doesn't seem to know her 'place'
...more
Tweety
I am so disappointed.

A friend of mine read this and said that she didn't agree with the ending, I figured that it was probably just something like what happened in Stormswift, and gave it a go anyway.

I was really enjoying Cluny Brown, she's amusing and likable. The story had her bungling her way through service as a parlour maid to the Carmels and helping the town chemist who hasn't much happiness to see the sun again.

Then we have the side story of Betty Cream, a woman who turns every man's hea
...more
notgettingenough
I so wish I didn’t have to file this under ‘books you won’t read before you die’. Such a crying shame.

When my mother handed this back to me yesterday, she said it was mildly amusing here and there. Told me the sentence she thought was most important. A bit Jane Austeny she said, in that way that damns everything in a comparison I wish could be outlawed.

This, after I'd laughed out loud on most pages to the occasional envy of my reading companion who was stuck in his Persian grammar book, which is
...more
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
A novel about a young woman in WWII-era Britain who is deemed not to know her place in life, so her uncle/guardian sends her off to be a housemaid at a country estate.

Full review at Another Look Book

Reminded me of:
- “Downton Abbey”; “Upstairs/Downstairs”
- D. E. Stevenson (The Blue Sapphire)
- Vita Sackville-West (The Heir; All Passion Spent; The Edwardians)
- Phillip Rock (The Passing Bells)
...more
Laurie Notaro
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Truly delightful and laugh out loud. Brilliant.
Mela
A gem! I loved it!

I think when an author of children's books writes a book for adults (or young adults) that book is wonderful. E.g. "I Capture the Castle". Writing for children is more demanding, so those who write for them must be better writers, or at least better storytellers.

--> I love a message of this novel. I sympathized with Cluny Brown every time when someone (even herself) asked:

"Who do you think you are, Cluny Brown?"

How often, not only when we are young, we are struggling with findi
...more
Beth Bonini
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
No one would describe this as revolutionary novel, and yet the great social changes brought about by World War II are hinted at - and sort of hover about this novel about a young girl from the working classes who just doesn't know 'her place'. The first thing we learn about 20 year old Cluny Brown is that she has gone to tea at the Ritz, all by herself, and just to see what it is like. Mr. Porritt, a London plumber and Cluny's uncle and guardian, is at a loss to know what to do about her, so he ...more
Siobhan Burns
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
So dated, and so so charming. Has a touch of Wodehouse, but not as silly, and a touch of Jo March, but much frothier. Things that seems quite obvious to her are dumbfounding to others, and vice versa, but you easily come to agree with her way of thinking. A lovely coming of age story of a young woman with a rather unique charm.
Lynn
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very cute and funny story about an eccentric, strangely attractive young woman who gets herself in wacky situations. Books like this just make me so happy to be alive and able to read.
Sandy
A simple and amusing little story - easy to whiz through, and good for what ails you! A pleasant way to spend a few winter evenings. I will return to this author!
Elisabeth
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had my eye out for a copy of Cluny Brown ever since I read Agatha Christie's Autobiography, in which she spoke fondly of it while discussing books. This involved a wait of several years, until eventually it was re-released as an ebook, and then a few more months of being on the library holds list until I finally got to borrow it. After all that, it's a good thing I enjoyed it! Margery Sharp's writing is witty and charming and a real pleasure to read, and Cluny herself is a real Character—th ...more
Daniela
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars

Mr. Porrit, a satisfied plumber in his late 40ies, has only one worry - that his niece Cluny Brown doesn't know her place in life. She even went to have tea at the Ritz once! And although she is not pretty, she gets picked up by the most random men on the street. After an especially unfortunate event involving an artist and a bathtub, Mr. Porrit has had enough - Cluny is to go into service.

Quickly, a mansion in Devon wanting a housemaid is found and Cluny is set on a train and dispat
...more
Sylvester
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Reading this was an odd experience. I was enjoying myself, I thought I liked the characters, and then suddenly I wasn't and I didn't. I'm not sure where it went off. And it's not that Sharp isn't a good writer. She is. I think it's more that I thought she was going somewhere else with it. At best, I can say that the character Cluny seems to embody a spirit of change, of unrest, of a new individuality and unrootedness - a break with tradition (which was necessary and important at the time) that b ...more
Aimee
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed every page of this book. Cluny was such a fun character, she was honest, fun, and full of surprises. The story begins with Cluny living with her uncle, but he decides it is in her best interest to go into service as a maid and sends her to Devon to begin a new life. Cluny adjusts to her new life in her own unique way which involves befriending fellow maids, enjoying her day off walking a neighbor dog, and learning her role in her new home.

There are several other interesting characters
...more
Nancy
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Margery Sharp (1905-1991) started her career writing for Punch and serialized magazine stories. Her first novel appeared in 1930 and her last in 1977. Her novels are comedic yet insightful, witty with a deep humanity. Several of her novels were made into films, including Disney's animated versions of her children's Rescuer series. Open Roads Media is publishing ten of Shape's novels as ebooks, and I hope she finds a new generation of fans.


Set in pre-war Britain, Cluny is an orphan living with he
...more
Ruth Brennan
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1900-1960
“How shocking. Shocking Cluny Brown! I’d like to meet her.”

What a charming, endearing, humorous and completely confounding book. Set in 1938, it's an 'Upstairs, Downstairs' kind of story, full of likeable characters and witty dialogue. Cluny Brown is a young orphaned lady who ‘doesn’t know her place’ and is sent away from London into service at a large Devonshire estate, Friars Carmel.

Without an ounce of cynicism, Cluny questions society's expectations for her life. Not such a big thing in 2017,
...more
Laura
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had read and loved several of the Rescuers books as a child so when I discovered that Margery Sharp had written stories for adults I was intrigued. Well...

I really wanted to like this book. It just didn't grab me. The premise was interesting but I never felt connected to the characters. In fact, I disliked most of them. The ending was so unlikely (although I was glad for Cluny) that it made me groan with disbelief.

and lucky me, I accidentally ordered this book twice so now I have TWO copies
...more
Emily
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a fun read! I found a strong similarity to P.G. Wodehouse, although definitely a female version of that author. The characters were interesting, the story engaging and altogether it was thoroughly enjoyable! Highly recommend.
Annette
A totally different experience from the movie. I even thought it would end differently.

Edit: I’m surprised no one seems to mention the movie in the comments. I highly recommend it. It’s the last film Ernst Lubitsch completed.
Katherine
I'm beginning to suspect Margery Sharp may be the queen of quirky characters. Many of them are almost over-the-top oddballs but somehow she not only makes them work, she manages to make her reader care about them.

Eccentric, off-beat humor, but ultimately satisfying.
...more
Helen
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading The Nutmeg Tree a few months ago, I was desperate to read more books by Margery Sharp, so the news that several of her novels were being reissued by Open Road Media came just at the right time for me.

What I remember most from The Nutmeg Tree is its heroine, the wonderful Julia Packett. Cluny Brown is another memorable character – an intelligent, free-spirited young woman who refuses to ‘know her place’. To the dismay of Uncle Arn, who has brought up the orphaned Cluny, she’s the s
...more
Ann
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: anglophilia
This book from 1938 features a very likable heroine. Cluny Brown is 20, tall and gawky, and has, according to her concerned family, a major problem : she doesn't know her place. That is, in class-conscious pre-war England, she doesn't seem to realize that lower-middle class girls like herself don't go to the Ritz for tea, just for the fun of it, and don't allow strange men to invite them for cocktails. The truth is, that Cluny is hungering for new experiences, for a life that is larger than what ...more
Melissa
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC of this title from Open Road Media.

I absolutely feel in love with the quirky, charming and free-spirited character of Cluny Brown. We first meet her through the eyes of her Uncle Arn, who is distressed because he feels that Cluny doesn't seem to know her proper place in life. He tells a stranger that he meets in the park that his twenty year-old niece had the nerve to treat herself to tea at the Ritz. Uncle Arn is simply beside himself that Cluny doesn't understand that she is
...more
Kilian Metcalf
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Margery Brown doesn't need my praises, but I'm going to sing them for those who may not have discovered her yet. Generations come and go, and the latest generation doesn't always realize what treasures lie in store for them. Now that great books are being uncovered from the sands of time, dusted off and presented as shiny new objects, there are many delightful stories to discover.

I recognized the title of the book, but had never read it or seen the movie. I associated the author's name with the
...more
Sarah
Jan 18, 2015 added it
I had completely forgotten about this book until I was researching the works of director Ernst Lubitsch and ran across this title among his directing credits. I've never seen the film, but I remember the book sat on my parents' bookshelves and sometime around junior high school , I pulled it down and started reading. Around the same time I read Saroyan's MY NAME IS ARAM and THE HUMAN COMEDY and THE THURBER CARNIVAL. I'm sure they must have been Book of the Month Club editions. I'll always be gra ...more
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Margery Sharp was born Clara Margery Melita Sharp in Salisbury. She spent part of her childhood in Malta.

Sharp wrote 26 novels, 14 children's stories, 4 plays, 2 mysteries and many short stories. She is best known for her series of children's books about a little white mouse named Miss Bianca and her companion, Bernard. Two Disney films have been made based on them, called The Rescuers and The Res
...more

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