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Mistress Masham's Repose [Hardcover]

T. H. White , Fritz Eichenberg
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1980 Gregg Press Children's Literature Series
Ten-year-old Maria, an orphaned heiress mistreated by evil guardians, discovers the descendants of the Lilliputians living on an island on a lake in the grounds of her English mansion.

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"It is literate, graceful and malicious…altogether a really charming contrivance."
— Diana Trilling

"A masterpiece of narration, literary ingenuity, humor and satire. Mr. White, on the basis of this book, deserves to be mentioned in the company of Evelyn Waugh, C. S. Lewis, and George Orwell as one of the few fortunate possessors of a splendid prose style."

"Readers of earlier books by T.H. White (The Sword in the Stone, Witch in the Wood, The Ill-made Knight) can expect the able recreation of period decor, the faculty of transmuting accepted literature into new life, elements of very human humor."
Kirkus Reviews

"The action is shot through with humor, and the Lilliputians, with their eighteenth-century manner of speech and dress, are characters not soon forgotten."
The Horn Book

"One of the finest, most magical and extraordinary children’s books ever written."
— Anne Fine, Children’s Laureate of Britain --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Terence Hanbury White (1906–1964) was born in Bombay, India, and educated at Queen’s College, Cambridge. His childhood was unhappy—”my parents loathed each other,” he later wrote—and he grew up to become a solitary person with a deep fund of strange lore and a tremendous enthusiasm for fishing, hunting, and flying (which he took up to overcome his fear of heights). White taught for some years at the Stowe School until the success in 1936 of England Have My Bones, a book about outdoor adventure, allowed him to quit teaching and become a full-time writer. Along with The Goshawk, White was the author of twenty-six published works, including his famed sequence of Arthurian novels, The Once and Future King; the fantasy Mistress Masham’s Repose (published in The New York Review Children’s Collection); a collection of essays on the eighteenth century, The Age of Scandal; and a translation of a medieval Latin bestiary, A Book of Beasts. He died at sea on his way home from an American lecture tour and is buried in Piraeus, Greece. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Can i go to Malplaquet, please? Sept. 8 2000
By A Customer
I have wished that i could go to Lilliput; in fact, i seem to recall reading a book with jealousy years ago in which a child or children went to Lilliput in the modern worl. Now, it seems, it would not be possible. The only remaining Lilliputians were kidnapped in the Eighteenth Century and brought to England to be displayed. They escaped and have been living for two hundred years on an otherwise empty island in the property, Malplaquet, of an ancient family. The current representative of the family is a poverty-stricken ten year old girl who discovers the little people. The tale shows the results, both bad and good, for them and for her. This is a delightful book; neither too easy for an adult nor too hard (as if there is such a thing) for a child. The villains, a Vicar and a Governess, are just funny enough to tip the balance away from any true fear for Maria ~ the little girl ~ and allow for full enjoyment of the ridiculous characters, situations, and resolutions White offers. It is quite true that "Gulliver's Travels" was, when written, a savage and cutting satire, whereas now we read it for enjoyment as children. "Misstress Masham's Repose" likewise contains more than a simple children's story; likewise, though, it is the story future generations will read it for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heck, give this one ten stars. Jan. 30 1999
By A Customer
Orphaned Maria lives alone in Malplaquet, the vast and ruined eighteenth-century country house which is her sole inheritance from her parents. Her guardians, the odious vicar Mr. Hater and the oppressive governess Miss Brown, strive unceasingly to keep Maria firmly in her place and under control. But Maria has too much spirit and wit to be kept down, and though she has no friends her own age, she does have allies of a sort: Cook, who keeps a bicycle handy for getting around the vast corridors of Malplaquet, and the eccentric and distracted Professor, who lives nearby in a cottage crammed with books. Though they're adults, Cook and the Professor are powerless too against the organized, bland-faced evil of Mr. Hater and Miss Brown, and Maria is on her own when she battles them. And she does battle: at first guerrilla warfare, and later out-and-out pitched engagements, in some of the funniest scenes ever committed to paper.
Initially Maria's revolts are small. She sneaks out while Miss Brown suffers from headache and visits one of her hideaways: a pond, which has an island holding an abandoned summer-house in the center, once a focal point of the glorious gardens but now like the rest overgrown and wild. Maria lands on her island and finds that it's not, however, unoccupied: tiny people live there as well. The island is hers; the summerhouse is hers; and Maria considers that the people are hers as well.
The practical and impractical things Maria does with, and for, her little people and what they do with, and for, Maria is the heart of the book. Subtly, this is a story about power---the vicar's and governess's over Maria, Maria's over the little people---and revolt.
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By A Customer
What if: after the publication of Gulliver's Travels, some unscrupulous men went to Lilliput, captured some of the inhabitants, and brought them back to exhibit in a sideshow? And what if some years later they escaped and took up residence in a moldering summer house on a forgotten island in a pond on the middle of a huge estate, where they lived their lives undiscovered for two centuries, until the orphan girl who lives there in modern times finds them? This is the intriguing premise of Mistress Masham's Repose, an unjustly forgotten work by the great T.H. White. This is the story of the girl's discovery, and how it changes her life and theirs. Complete with evil governess, scheming vicar, and seeming miles of passageways and mysterious rooms in the huge house, this is a great adventure book with a girl as the hero. My sisters and I loved it in the 50's, our children have loved our old copy in the 80's and 90's, and now t's being republished. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Words fail me. July 7 2000
What can I say that has not already been said? Even more, what can I say that will adequately convey my love for this book? Common sense dictates that not all books ever written can be perpetually in print and easily available, but I have never understood how this book has been allowed its spotty history. It is truly a book for everyone of all ages, and in my estimation should be considered White's best, even outstripping his famous "The Once and Future King," which for all its beauty is a seriously flawed work. "Mistress Masham's Repose" is didactic, too, but its teaching is not painful, and performs the miraculous feat of sending the reader, whether child or adult, on an eager search for more information. And yet, the work is not slow or tiresome, and White never talks down to anyone, even when his comedy verges on that of the music hall. Books like this should never disappear, and once you fall under its spell you will read it again and again.
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