Something Light by Margery Sharp

published 1960  chapter 4

“Well now you’ve seen her,” inquired F.Pennon, “what d’you think of her?”

He and Louisa were waiting in the spacious, galleried entrance hall for Mrs Anstruther to come down to dinner – Freddy in black tie, Louisa, to keep her spirits up, in toreador pants.

“She’s got the most beautiful profile,” said Louisa sincerely, “I’ve ever seen off an Afghan.”

“She has, hasn’t she?” said Freddy eagerly. “It’s what I’ve always remember about her – that little nose, and the way her lip curls…. She hasn’t changed in the least. She says I haven’t either.”…

Mrs Anstruther, wearing gray lace, flitted mothlike down the stair and came to rest at Freddy’s side like a butterfly on a buddleia. Her soft gray glance flitted momentarily towards Louisa’s pants, and as swiftly flitted away again. Louisa acknowledged a possibly justified criticism, and at the same time diagnosed short sight and a reluctance to appear in glasses.

observations: I very much like the Leaves & Pages blog, and the proprietor and I share some pretty obscure favourites (who else has read Robert Graves’ Antigua, Penny, Puce?). So when she recommended this book after reading my comments on The Nutmeg Tree, also by Sharp, I ordered it at once, and was not disappointed.

Louisa is feeling her age, she is generous and warm-hearted and, the opening line tells us ‘very fond of men’ – so definitely in the same mould as Julia from The Nutmeg Tree. The book follows her adventures as she tries to find someone to settle down with - although she is only 30, which to us now seems a bit young to be worrying about it.

It must be said, there is not much doubt in the reader’s mind whom she is going to end up with, from his first appearance, although Louisa doesn’t realize it for a long time. Some of the plot is less predictable – the section where she goes to help out a widower with teenage children had quite a surprise, as well as a strange picture of suburban life of the time and a remarkable description: she has soaked a shirt in too much detergent and ‘it was so full of soap it felt like a chamois leather.’ Perfect.

The toreador pants, and an alternative outfit, will feature in another entry.

Links on the blog: In the Jane Duncan books that we are shamelessly pursuing lately, there is a character called Alexander Alexander, who is given the nickname Twice by his wife. Here, there is a young man called Andrew McAndrew, equally Scottish and of quite similar temperament to Twice. The Eye of Love is another favourite book by Margery Sharp.

The picture is a sewing pattern from the 1950s, with the toreador pants on the right. My edition of the book is American – I don’t know if they were described as toreador trousers in the British version. Or if they are the same things as matador pants.


  1. Thrilled to hear you enjoyed Something Light! It was my very first Margery Sharp novel that I read, and it remains one of my favourites. Loads of lovely descriptions of clothes, too, which of course you've noted! ;-)

    And I see above a mention of Jane Duncan. I was just thinking of her the other day; I have a few tucked away and I was thinking that I'd like to dip into them this summer. It must be time to dig around in the book boxes where the "overflow" resides. (We *need* more bookshelves.)

  2. I loved it! so glad you recommended it to me, thank you very much. Jane Duncan - I read and loved them all when I was a teenager, and I look at them very differently now, but can't stop reading them.

  3. Moira - Oh, I remember toreador pants! How fun to be reminded of them. I'm looking forward to your next mention of them :-). And the story itself sounds like fun too. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    1. I suppose they're not that different from what we'd call capri pants here, but somehow toreador has a more exotic ring to it....

  4. Moira, fantastic vintage sewing pattern. I remember poring over pattern books when I was young and too poor to buy clothes! I am going to look for some more fantastic images like these for my blog too. Cheers

  5. There's something about pattern pictures isn't there? - maybe it's the tiny waists the women have! I can't sew at all, but always liked looking at patterns and wishing I could. There's a lot of images on the internet, you'll find it's a real resource...

  6. You're always putting the best books up here, and you have such a gift for picking perfect passages. I love Margery Sharp too—The Flowering Thorn is my favourite. (I also read Antigua, Penny, Puce, but so long ago that I'll be able to enjoy re-reading it now.)

    Pattern pictures too. When we were little my mother had a couple of the big Vogue pattern books, and we pored over them and practiced all those model stances, particularly one where the model holds one taken-off glove in her gloved hand. I still find myself practicing that in the hall sometimes.

    1. Thanks Marina - Flowering Thorn going on the list. I love the way she's a kind of secret name that some of us love and pass on our favourites to each other!

      And I know all about the poses - with me and a friend it was fashion mags, it was called being Honey models, they had sneery faces and quite grunge-y looking backgrounds, so STILl (2 aged women) in the mirrors in the ladies' room we're quite likely to do Honey poses for each other.


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