Margery On Bathrooms

Who could resist?

Margery had an appreciative eye for an efficient bathroom, and obviously loved a good soak in the tub. With that assumption, it’s no surprise that Cluny Brown (of Cluny Brown) had a passion for plumbing, and Martha (of Martha in Paris) fell in love–not with Eric, but with his bathtub:

‘Not only the full-length bath gleamed vitreous and pale green, but the walls as well; and the entire floor was covered with cork. A pair of beautiful big English towels hung rough and rich from a heated towelrail (Martha put her hand on it). The soap, two beautiful big tablets, one for the bath, one for the wash-basin, was Wright’s Coal Tar.

“It’s the best bathroom I’ve ever seen,” stated Martha formally’.

This was high praise coming from the taciturn Martha. She had reason for being susceptible to the seductive charm of Eric’s bathroom–she hadn’t had a good soak in weeks. As Sharp puts it (obviously from disgruntled experience)

The bathroom was the least satisfactory: flakes of enamel from its antique tub adhered to Martha’s behind, also the water was never quite hot–

Again–we find passion and bathrooms linked in Cluny Brown. Cluny is almost seduced by the rotund Mr. Ames when she is captivated by his newly remodeled bathroom. Mr. Ames recognizes an opportunity:

‘All his aplomb returned as he led her to the bathroom. It was the very place to arouse, as he now urgently desired to do, her wonder and admiration; he had confidence in his bathroom, and he was not disappointed. Before the enormous amber-coloured bath, the amber-tinted mirrors–the oiled silk curtains and innumerable shiny gadgets–Cluny in turn was bereft of speech. She gazed and gazed, till her eyes were like pools of ink.

“Nice?” prompted the owner.

“Heaven!” breathed Cluny.’

Add to that the famous opening line of The Nutmeg Tree:

‘Julia, by marriage Mrs. Packett, by courtesy Mrs. Macdermot, lay in her bath singing the Marseillaise…’

This turns out to be a convenient way to hold back the creditors, and keep them waiting she does:

‘She could stay in a bath almost indefinitely, and had often, during her periodic attempts at slimming, lain parboiled for two or three hours.’

If you’re familiar with the story of The Nutmeg Tree, you know that Julia goes hastily to France to answer a distress call from her daughter. Once arrived, she is greeted, not by her long lost daughter, but by a French maid, who asks the burning question of the day:

“Madame will take the bath?”

 

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7 thoughts on “Margery On Bathrooms

  1. Pingback: The Nutmeg Tree | Margery Sharp

  2. Pingback: Seaside Spell | Margery Sharp

  3. I adore Margery Sharp and have collected almost all her novels. My first was Cluny Brown and, as a soap-maker I always think of her when I make geranium soap! I’ve only just found this blog and am so pleased to have done so.

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    • So glad you found it! You are just the sort of person I had in mind when I decided to make this website; I wanted to reach other enthusiasts who loved her work; thank you very much!

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  4. I’m certainly an enthusiast! I won’t know what to do when I have read them all….I suppose I’ll just have to start them all over again. Can’t get Fanfare for Tin Trumpets for love nor money and a couple of others are difficult to come by. Do you have a favourite or is that an impossible question?

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    • I have several favorites! For different reasons…but I tend to like her older work better. Cluny Brown always comes to mind because it was the first Sharp novel I read, and I remember that thrill or ‘zing’, of realizing that I had found a gem. There is something about her comedic style, I guess, that speaks to me. Stone of Chastity had me laughing so hard at the sheer absurdity of it all, and I would like to think the author had a few good laughs while she was writing it, as well. 🙂 The Foolish Gentlewoman is brilliant as a character study, though in this one the humor is quite subtle.

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  5. Oh how I agree! Cluny Brown was my first too and I have since bought several copies of it to send to friends. I too knew that I was on to something and then my very elderly mother (99) recalled reading The Eye of Love many years ago and told me how impressed she’d been with it and how it was a book that lingered in the memory. As far as other favourites go I loved The Innocents (always struck by the opening sentence for some reason). I started The Gypsy in the Parlour with a degree of uncertainty but changed my mind as it went on so that is up there too; as is The Flowering Thorn (only recently read) and of course all the Martha novels. I loved them. I’ve just started Harlequin House, only a few pages in but very promising!

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