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The Third Miss Symons

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  108 Ratings  ·  29 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.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1913)
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Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: virago
4.5 stars
Flora Mayor was a remarkable woman; she read history at Cambridge in the early 1890s; a great achievement. She then became an actress before turning to literature. She wrote short stories and several novels, which were well regarded. She was a writer of ghost stories which were greatly admired by M R James (the greatest writer of ghost stories ever!). Again I wonder why she is so little known. There is no individual biography of her. There is a joint biography of Mayor and her friend Ma
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short quick read. Well written, conveyed the unpleasant story of an unpleasant person. I didn't 'enjoy' it per say because it was quite depressing and left me feeling undone. But I think that gives credit to the author as she so thoroughly made Etta real to the reader that I think that was why it left me feeling down. A sad life.
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
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Υπάρχει επίθετο αντίθετο του "αξιαγάπητος"; Αν ναι, χαρακτηρίζει την ηρωίδα απόλυτα. Η μικρή καθημερινή τραγωδία ενός ανθρώπου που κανείς δεν αγαπάει.
Karen Chung
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Gareth Evans
When a book is as crispy and well written as this to give less than 3 stars would be a churlish. It's a quick read and a wonderful character study but it is miserable. A dull story of a dull life. It certainly takes some skill from a writer to make a reader get to the end (although, to be fair, it is very short). Interesting rather than entertaining, but Mayor can certainly write as she shows in the better developed a more sympathetic Parson's Daughter.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very short, straightforward story of a spinster and all the unfortunate occurrences of her life, it's about how cruel the world could be to a spinster at the time and how few opportunities they had to pursue their own interests and find their own happiness
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
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.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-classics, vmc
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.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: virago, middlebrow
Rather a sad story, full of pathos, about a third daughter of a large family who just wants to be loved but, owing to several character flaws, isn't. It is set in Victorian times and looks at the place of such women in Victorian society.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Third Miss Symons was the first novel published by Flora MacDonald Mayor, the daughter of an Anglican clergyman and professor of classics. It had been preceded by a collection of short stories in 1901, and two more novels and some ghost stories came later. I read F M Mayor’s 1924 novel The Rector’s Daughter in 2015 – it’s a beautiful, poignant novel, though a sad one. It was through the introduction of that novel, that I got the sense that Flora Mayor was more than the quiet, Victorian, cler ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, uk
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
Feb 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readwomen2014
The Third Miss Symons by FM Mayor - probably better than I think it is: Good

Interesting book, well written about an unpromising topic. The author made me feel sympathy despite my actual feelings about 'Miss Symons' herself.

Henrietta is the third daughter and fifth (but not last) child born into a well-to-do Victorian family. The book charts her life as an ordinary, maybe plain, child into a socially awkward and bad-tempered adult. Thanks to her sister's meddling, she loses the only suitor to com
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Review to follow.
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, novella
A beautiful book, with lively depicted characters...
Belinda G
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
J'ai bien aimé Henrietta, petite peste irascible et anti-conformiste par la force des choses.
Alexandra Daw
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mother's day gift from Cas, I knocked this over in half a day Easy to read, amusing and an interesting contrast to Lolly Willowes.
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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
More about F.M. Mayor...
“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
More quotes…