The Friendly Young Ladies: A Novel

Front Cover
Vintage Books, 2003 - Fiction - 293 pages
20 Reviews
Set in 1937, The Friendly Young Ladies is a romantic comedy of off-Bloomsbury bohemia. Sheltered, naÔve, and just eighteen, Elsie leaves the stifling environment of her parentsí home in Cornwall to seek out her sister, Leo, who had run away nine years earlier. She finds Leo sharing a houseboat, and a bed, with the beautiful, fair-haired Helen. While Elsieís arrival seems innocent enough, it is the first of a series of events that will turn Helen and Leoís contented life inside out. Soon a randy young doctor is chasing after all three women at once, a neighborly friendship begins to show an erotic tinge, and long-quiet ghosts from Leoís past begin to surface. Before long, no one is sure just who feels what for whom.

Mary Renault wrote this delightfully provocative novel in the early 1940s, creating characters that are lighthearted, charming, and free-spirited partly in answer to the despair characteristic of Radclyffe Hallís The Well of Loneliness or Lillian Hellmanís The Childrenís Hour. The result is a witty and stylish story that offers exceptional insight into the world of upcoming writers and artists of in 1930s London, chronicling their rejection of societyís established sexual mores and their heroic pursuits of art and life.

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Review: The Friendly Young Ladies

User Review  - Roberto - Goodreads

I loved Leo and her corduroy slack-wearing, cigarette-smoking, western-writing tomboyishness. Loved the casually bohemian tone of it all. The ending was a bit melodramatic and a bit unsatisfying but otherwise this was delightful and written with great charm and quiet insinuation. Read full review

Review: The Friendly Young Ladies

User Review  - Kat - Goodreads

Though this novel begins with the story of an unattractive and unintelligent girl who lives with her family in Cornwall, fairly early on it switches to the more interesting lives of two women who ... Read full review

About the author (2003)

Mary Renault was born in London and educated at Oxford. She then trained for three years as a nurse, and wrote her first published novel, Promise of Love. Her next three novels were written while serving in WWII. After the war, she settled in South Africa and traveled considerably in Africa and Greece. It was at this time that she began writing her brilliant historical reconstructions of ancient Greece, including The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine, and The Persian Boy. She died in Cape Town in 1983.

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