Still She Wished for Company
by Margaret Irwin
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 29 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 4 Dec 2020
Time is. Time was. Time will be.
Jan leads a rather content, if dull life. She works in an office, sees a suitable man, but her life is lacking the excitement her spirited nature craves.
Juliana too leads a rather content, if dull life. She grows up at Chidleigh, writes in her journal, but she yearns for something more than a suitable marriage for her life.
Though separated by centuries, Jan and Juliana pass through each other’s orbits from time to time. But it’s not until tragedy strikes Juliana’s family that their lives truly begin to intertwine…
In her enchanting first novel, Margaret Irwin weaves a hauntingly gothic tale full of magic, desire, and fate.
Perfect for fans of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, Still She Wished for Company is a chilling ghost story for the ages.
A Note From the Publisher
If you enjoyed reading Still She Wished for Company, we'd really appreciate seeing your honest review on Amazon. Thank you and happy reading, Agora Books.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 42 members
I consumed this book in one sitting. The writing was absolutely beautiful and the way the two stories were weaved together to become one was stunning. I only wish it was longer so I could stay in the story forever. This is my first Margaret Irwin book and I will definitely have to pick up a few more.
Time Is, Time Was, Time Will Be... A haunting time travel story in which the future haunts the past. It follows the story of Juliana Clare, a young woman in the 18th century who lives in a big English estate with her family. She lives an ordinary life that she believes “will always stay the same.” The other storyline follows Jan Challard a young woman in 1920s London who becomes enamoured with a historical painting of a man whom she seems to be chasing in her waking life. The two women’s lives intersect as the veil of time stretches thin so that they both see each other without ever meeting. Juliana’s mysterious brother Lucian arrives and recognizes a supernatural power within Juliana that he uses to chase Jan Challard through time. The story’s spectral quality was tingling and beautiful and surprised me with its depth and poetry of the fabric of time. Like a handprint on a pane of glass, like a whisper in your ear late at night, like a ray of light that catches your eye, this book captured the evanescent pain of fate and memory. The past being haunted by a future story was incredibly unique and brought a romantic dimension to the classic time travel genre. What is impressive is that this book was originally published in the 1920s. The supernatural gothic elements of the story were both metaphysical and philosophical and the ending left many questions unanswered. There is a whimsical uneasiness to the story that will make you invest in the simplicity and desires of the characters who ultimately are looking for timeless love. For those who believe they live a hum drum life that will never change, or for those who feel attached to a person they have yet to meet, this book is for you.
Superb! One of my favourite writing eras, this Golden Age mystery is breathtaking, written in beautiful language that is impossible to replicate in modern times. The first sentence to the last...especially the last!...enchanted and riveted. Supper was delayed but who cares when in the midst of a wonderful story? If I could, I would give this a 6/5! Just look at the title! Two women, two time periods in England, one magical bond. Jan is a dreamer, somewhat fanciful and preoccupied, and works at a ho-hum job in the 1920s. Juliana is also an an abstracted young woman who lives two centuries earlier. Born into an upper class family she is determined to stave off boredom by journaling. What happens next is a splendid gothic story chock full of delicious twists and mysterious happenings, very unique. Lives intermingle in a remarkable way, very satisfying to the reader. As we follow these understandably perplexed women threads tangle and untangle. This book is the answer to your mystery craving with just the blend of gothic romance (think Daphne du Maurier), perfect for Golden Age and Mystery fans. My sincere thank you to Agora Books and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this delightful book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.
I enjoyed this book very much, it had me gripped from the very first page until the last. I didn’t know what to expect from it but I’m really glad I read it. It was a quick read and I could have read it in one sitting. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
Part ghost story, part time-slip fantasy and part historical fiction, Margaret Irwin’s first novel from 1924, recently reissued with a pretty new cover, is a wonderful, dreamlike read. Jan Challard is a young woman living in 1920s London and trying to find her place in the new society which has emerged from the aftermath of the First World War. Life seems to be going well, but Jan feels restless: she is bored with her office job, bored with the nice, suitable young man who wants to marry her, and haunted by a face in a portrait – a Gentleman Unknown, who seems to be following her everywhere she goes. In 1779, we meet another bored young woman: seventeen-year-old Juliana Clare, the youngest daughter of an aristocratic family with an estate in Berkshire. Juliana spends her days walking in the gardens of Chidleigh House and writing in her journal, while waiting for something more exciting to happen and remembering a line from her favourite childhood fairytale: “…still she sat and still she span, and still she wished for company”. Company does eventually arrive, but perhaps not in the way Juliana had expected. First, following the death of Lord Chidleigh, Juliana’s eldest brother Lucian returns after a long absence to take up his father’s title and his inheritance. Stories of the wild, debauched lifestyle Lucian has been leading have reached the family and he receives a frosty welcome at Chidleigh House. Juliana is the only one who is happy to see him and as the brother and sister grow closer, something strange begins to happen: the centuries separating Juliana’s life from Jan’s seem to dissolve and merge. Jan can see Juliana and Juliana can see Jan, but which of them is the ghost and which of them is real? This is a very short novel, but just the right length for the story – or stories – being told, and it really doesn’t need to be any longer. Jan’s story frames Juliana’s and is confined to a short section at the beginning of the book and another at the end; Margaret Irwin appears to be more comfortable writing about the eighteenth century (a period she obviously knew well and knew how to bring to life) and most of the novel concentrates on Juliana. I couldn’t help comparing this to most of the dual time-period books being written today, where I usually find that far too much time is spent on a weaker present day narrative, leaving me impatient to get back to the more interesting historical one. The structure of Still She Wished for Company is much more effective, in my opinion, as I could become fully immersed in Juliana’s story without being pulled out of it after every few chapters. The book is beautifully written, with the same elegant prose and powerful descriptive writing I’ve loved in the other Margaret Irwin novels I’ve read. There are no obvious anachronisms, no dialogue that feels jarringly wrong for the time period...it was just a pleasure to read! The eighteenth century storyline on its own could have been the basis for a compelling novel, but the addition of the ghost story/time travel elements make it something special, particularly as they are handled so well that they feel almost believable. It’s a lovely, magical read and just the sort of thing I was in the mood for at the moment!
I enjoyed this time-slip (or maybe ghost) story, originally published in 1924 and now re-issued by Agora Books. A modern 1920's young woman, Jan, has glimpses of the past while on holiday in Berkshire, seeing members of the Clare family who lived at Chidleigh in the 1770's. More interestingly, some of the Clares also see Jan on occasion and invisibly visit the modern day. There's a bit of romance, a bit of dashing but devilish gentlemen, a sinister brother-sister relationship, dreams, ghosts and maybe satanic rituals. Some readers might find this book a little slow paced, but I found it just right for the reading mood I was in. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy in exchange for honest feedback.
A wonderful debut novel with intertwining narratives. An easy and enjoyable read! Juliana's story was my favourite and I felt like I could have stayed in that era for the whole novel!
I greatly enjoyed this read. Sure it’s dated but it was written so long ago. It’s a fine ghost story with loads of ambiance. Clever and slightly unsettling.
Still She Wished for Company is the best book I have read in quite a while. A historical, fantastical, unusual novel that gently carries you into the 1700s and grips you like a classic gothic ghost story. I will admit that the first paragraph didn't draw me in right away. The language was very lyrical and felt a little too flowery. I found it hard to get into after reading a lot of contemporary fiction. But as soon as I accepted this was historical, meant to be read as if it had been written at the time, it gripped me, in fact, the first part, which feels like it is happening sometimes between post-world war I and world war II, was less engaging than what quickly follows. However, the absent-minded wordy tone is explained by the very nature of the often confused and day-dreaming main character. She would like to live in a different age and she keeps thinking it is almost there, at her reach. And that's when the novel does a backflip and sends you into the life of a 1700s aristocrat, who is just 17 years old. She is bored and both scared and fascinated by the return of her mysterious elder brother as the new heir of the estate, the fortune and her future. That does not make much of a novel but the tone is amazing. Everyone knows the cliches of the gothic novels around the Bronte sisters time. This book does it beautifully, and while the heroine has no idea what is going on, we can read all the occult hints sprinkled between the lines. This is not the usual ghost story at all, in fact it turns the ghost tales inside out. What if the ghost could look right back at you from their very own life? And while I would love to say more I do not want to spoil anyone's fun. I really enjoyed that novel and highly recommend it to anyone who likes classics, who loves to see the supernatural done differently, who loves gothic novels, who loves the occult, who loves to read those great country novels of the 1800s. It was fantastic.
My thanks to Margaret Irwin, Agora Books and Net Galley for the ARC of STILL SHE WISHED FOR COMPANY. I love time-slip and this novel was done beautifully, not just in the writing but in the construction. Of course, at the moment, historical fiction is very popular and any new novel needs to be excellent to pass muster. This certainly does. Stunning!
I am so pleased I got the chance to read this book as it was very interesting, a little haunting and very intriguing. I love the way the story goes from the 1920's to the 1970's without confusing the reader. It is a story of life, loss and supernatural powers. It is a slow but easy read and it is one that I enjoyed, it kept me intrigued and I would happily recommend it to my family and friends.