Dear Ms. Barker,
I have long been interested in Lady Winifred Fortescue and her writings. Needless to say, I was very interested in Maureen Emerson's new book, Escape to Provence and must say I was not disappointed. I just felt I had to put my 2 cents worth in after reading the less than positive review that I discuss below. On another subject, you have a wonderful site and I shall be a frequent visitor.
Best wishes from Texas!
I disagree with almost every aspect of Martin Hills's review of Escape to Provence. It would have been most helpful if he had acquainted himself with Lady Fortescue's books prior to his review.
Hills is disturbed by the index and over four hundred entries, "every one of them a name,and this,he claims,"makes it extremely hard for the reader to keep track of them all." First, it is not necessary to "keep track of them all" as, in most books, describing lives and events, names and subjects are mentioned primarily for context. I just didn't have the problem that Hills seems to think I, and other readers, would have. This read flowed very well, for me at least.
Hills also seems disturbed by the fact that the word "lesbian" never appears in the text. Golly, I had that one figured out and am not sure if the word "lesbian" would have made things any clearer to me or not.
This review seems to be based upon a "skim" of Escape rather than an enjoyable and in-depth one. I would suggest to Hills that he read all of Lady Fortescue's writings and then revisit his review.
My impressions of Escape are quite different from this reviewer and I can honestly say it is the most interesting read I have had in quite some time. The research that went into the lives, and lives led, by Winifred “Peggy” Fortescue and Elisabeth Starr, as well as the World War 11 travails of France, must have been monumental . It certainly paid off. The personalities of Peggy and Elisabeth were quite different and the fact that they were able to maintain such a close relationship for as long as they did was remarkable. Their dedication to the French war effort was also something to behold. Emerson paints a picture of a bygone era in such a way that the reader is almost there and, certainly, wants to be there.
I highly recommend Escape to PROVENCE to anyone interested in two memorable ladies who belonged to an era long gone and and sadly missed.
Martin Hills replies: I am glad to learn that Mr Jones enjoyed Escape to Provence. This, I imagine, puts him among those I suggested would like it. Despite his reading of the review, I had read this book thoroughly and had also read a number of Lady Fortescue's works, although I admitted that there were some of which I'd not previously heard. I don't find it at all remarkable that Mr Jones takes a different view of this book from my own and I fully acknowledge his entitlement to hold and express the opinions he does. Where I disagree with him is that he doesn't seem to think that I am entitled to mine.