Precious Bane (Virago Modern Classics)
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This was a somewhat enjoyable story with good character development. The main character was pure, strong, and loving...a truly likeable heroine. The love story in it was real with a dash of fairytale...I really enjoyed that part of the book. Unfortunately, it was a minor part and Webb didn't devote enough time to their relationship as I would have liked. Although the characters were richly developed, I didn't really care for any of them except Prue and Kester, and because the majority of the story revolved around all the other characters, I was dissappointed. It could make for a great discussion regarding the many "banes" that each of the characters clung to that lead to their ruin. There was some goodness in the book, but overall it was a tragedy. I had such high hopes for this book after reading so many fantastic recommendations, and it did not measure up. It did take a lot of work getting through the Old English language, but I was willing to sift through it for a fantastic story and characters. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe it's because I read it after a book that had a great story, great characters, and was a much easier read. Regardless, I can't agree with all the other great reveiw Stanley Baldwin suggested that the strength of Precious Bane lies in “the fusion of elements of nature and man”. Do you agree? What was the effect, for you, of Mary Webb’s representation of the natural world? Webb's first published writing was a five-verse poem, written on hearing news of the Shrewsbury rail accident in October 1907. Her brother, Kenneth Meredith, so liked the poem and thought it potentially comforting for those affected by the disaster that, without her knowledge, he took it to the newspaper offices of the Shrewsbury Chronicle, which printed the poem anonymously. Mary, who usually burnt her early poems, was appalled before learning that the newspaper had received appreciative letters from its readers.  [ bettersourceneeded]
Precious Bane | Victorian England, Rural Life, Nature
The first meeting of the newly-formed Mary Webb Society took place at The Church Hall in Meole Brace on June 12, 1972, the same date that Mary and Henry Bertram Law Webb, a nephew of the famous Dawley-born Channel swimmer Captain Matthew Webb – Henry was himself an aspiring writer – were married 60 years previously in the nearby Holy Trinity Church.
Adapted as a television play by the BBC in 1989, with Janet McTeer as Prue, Clive Owen as her brother Gideon, and John Bowe as Kester. Liz said: "I didn’t really discover Mary Webb until a friend loaned me a copy of Precious Bane. That was it – totally hooked and hell-bent on reading everything she wrote, and then the biographies. The stand-out biography is without doubt The Flower of Light by Dr Gladys Mary Coles and a must-read for all Mary Webb devotees. The title of the story has a double meaning. It is taken from John Milton's Paradise Lost (Book I, lines 690-692):
Precious Bane by Mary Webb | Goodreads Precious Bane by Mary Webb | Goodreads
Prue works almost as hard as he does, but her focus is on helping others--always first to sacrifice herself for someone in need. She goes particularly far to help the man of her dreams, the man she has fallen for, the weaver Kester Woodseaves. This novel is full of musical prose, but I found the romantic parts particularly tender and beautiful. He wore no beard or whiskers, so you could see the shape and colour and the lines of all his face, which seemed to me to be a face you could never tire of looking on. Times I wonder if heaven will be thus, a long gazing on a face you canna tire of, but must ever have one more glimpse. Precious Bane is a historical romance by Mary Webb, first published in 1924. It won the Prix Femina Vie Heureuse Prize in 1926.
Books & Arts
Mary Gladys Webb (25 March 1881 – 8 October 1927) was an English romance novelist and poet of the early 20th century, whose work is set chiefly in the Shropshire countryside and among Shropshire characters and people whom she knew. Her novels have been successfully dramatized, most notably the film Gone to Earth in 1950 by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger based on the novel of the same title. The novels are thought to have inspired the famous parody Cold Comfort Farm (1932) by Stella Gibbons. Prudence Sarn is a country girl who lives with her simple mother and her older brother, Gideon, "Maister of the place". Prue is gentle, goodhearted and has a fine figure along with a sharp mind. But she also has a harelip, meaning her whole existence is blighted, as it's impossible that anyone would marry a girl with a curse like that. In spite of her bleak future, she makes light of her woes and from very early on, she develops a special relationship with everything alive, her senses being aligned in harmony with the wild natural world; animals, trees and even the wind are her most beloved companions. In her brief preface, Webb (b. 1881) speaks of listening to the "reminiscence" of Shropshire friends and neighbors as she was growing up, and particularly of the local lore she learned from her father. She also researched this novel seriously, as she indicates. Reading it genuinely transports you into a world and a way of life now essentially vanished. Textured depiction of the folkways and folklore, folk songs and customs of that time and place is a great strength of this book. It's a world that has its pluses and minuses, and you'll feel both of them profoundly. Webb looks unflinchingly at the sexist and classist attitudes of that time, including the double standard for sexual morality, and the ugly fallout these could have; the dangers of superstition, and the gruesome "sport" of bullbaiting. (We should probably include a trigger warning for animal death/cruelty --though, thanks to a brave action, not as much death and cruelty as there might have been.) The plot definitely isn't all sweetness and light; the baser attitudes and motives of some human hearts are on display, and some events are grim indeed. But the author recognizes life's beauty as well as its tragedy, and the positive as well as negative potential of the human spirit.
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what Mary Webb (author) gives us is more than the archetypal happy ending of the fairy tale, where transformations come to princesses and princes trapped in bear and frog skins, where the kiss from one who sees the trapped creature as beautiful sets the real beauty free. For when the princely weaver kisses Prudence Sarn upon the spot of her deformity, it does not go away, she does not shed it suddenly. Rather, the blemish, loved and kissed at last, can make her whole and open up the gates of entry to the joys it threatened to deny. Thus what is finally evoked in us is more than the fairy tale longing that our inner beauty will be seen so clearly it will make us beautiful before the world, it is the longing to be known and loved for all our blemishes, our warts and wens and contradictions, to be "let in" whole." A strict churchman might find Prue much at fault (although, in Sarn, even the parson has a book of “curious ancient prayers”). She’s as likely to look in a wizard’s book for a solution as the Bible; she is well-versed in superstitious folk-lore, and lax in her churchgoing. Yet she is also full of scripture, the created world frequently evoking, for her, biblical scenes. The lilies on the mere are “like the raiment of those men who stood with Christ upon the mountain top”, floating as if Jesus, “walking upon the water, had laid them down with His cool hands”.Published in 1924, Precious Bane is a novel by Mary Webb (1881 - 1927) which touches on ambition, prejudice and hatred but also on the power of love. Prue Sarn is a farm girl in rural Shropshire during the period of the Napoleonic Wars and is viewed with suspicion by the local community because of having been born with a harelip. Her ambitious and domineering brother betrays her and her superstitious neighbours accuse her of witchcraft. An itinerant weaver Kester Woodseaves, makes his living by weaving for the local people in their homes. Like Prue, he loves the natural world and comes to recognises Prue's inner strength and beauty. ( Noel Badrian) Hammill, Faye Cold Comfort Farm, D. H. Lawrence, and English Literary Culture Between the Wars, Modern Fiction Studies 47.4 (2001) 831-854 But Prue's peace of mind crumbles down when she meets the new weaver, Kester Woodseaves, whom she starts to worship in secret not believing herself worthy of him. It's up to this Prince Charming to perceive the real beauty of Pruedence Sarn and free her from gossip and hateful stares.