Review: Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge


Thanks to blogger Covered in Flour (aka The Messy Baker) for alerting me to this book.

Won’t you be nice and click the link above and read her post, too? Leave a comment. We bloggers live for comments.

My Interest

A woman fed up with her husband, fed up with her grown children? Never! A lady whose hobby has become a profession for which she now has a real reputation? Yes! And she runs….away???  And finds a younger man to adore her? Oh yeah! Sounds like an Anne Tyler except that she’s a painter and the time is the early 1930s in England and “Illyria” which is sort of today’s Croatia down to Albania. So, a book as pleasant as a Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middle Brow story, but helpful to my Reading the World project too, since I go by setting rather than nationality of the author. A final vote in this book’s favor was the title including the word “Spring” since it was still Spring when I started reading it–so it fit with my seasonal reading goal.

The Story

“…I’ve begun to find out what it is to feel free, out here–and now I’ve got to find out how to be free at home.” (p. 251)

Grace Stanway, aka Lady Kilmichael, wife of renown economist Sir Walter Kilmichael and mother of Linnet, Teddy and Neville, goes off to paint in much the same way my mother used to threaten (jokingly) to go off for a pound of butter and never return. Grace goes off to the Continent to paint and escape a headstrong daughter, a husband who treats her like an idiot and twins who, being in college, know everything. That’s not to say that she hates them! No, she does love them–in fact various things everywhere bring them happily to mind. She’s just, well, she’s just had it with being the family’s joke. She isn’t taken seriously. And, what’s more, it appears that dear Walter is “straying.” But is he? Does he take her for granted and see her as unintelligent–silly even? Hmmmm.

Along the way she meets a disenchanted, but charming and well-bread young man who aspires to be a painter. Except his father, a General, is imposing Architecture School on his dream to make him more respectable and to get him off the General’s payroll. Nicholas explodes telling Grace she simply can’t draw before he learns who she really “is.” After the explosion the two come to know each other and learn from each other. Nicholas falls in love, but Grace simply likes being taken seriously and being adored. She also enjoys showing him tricks of the painting trade–all of which help him improve his craft.

While this idyllic trip goes on, Walter is back home worried. Finally, he and Linnet go abroad as does The General. You can imagine what happens next I’m sure.

My Thoughts

This was the perfect novel to read out on my deck in the evenings! I loved Grace, I loved Nicholas–I loved Walter and came to like Linnet. This is a sweet, wonderful story without being cloying or precious. There are a few things that modern readers may find disagreeable (I don’t think there was anything that would anger someone)–especially Grace or Nicholas’ thoughts on the locals. The book came out in 1935, that was then. We’ve moved on so ignore it and enjoy the story.

My Verdict



8 thoughts on “Review: Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge

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      1. Yes! How nice to hear you say that, I have missed you too. We may message a bit whenever you have time if you wish. We’re doing well after these two past challenging years, life always have ups and downs but the Lord is good, and life is good too. I am enjoying reading and blogging again.


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