London, 1905. A show. A stuttering romance. Two squabbling actresses.
Is it Shakespeare? Is it Vaudeville?
Not quite. It is Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, a satirical play about suffragettes which its creators – friends and would-be lovers Robbie Robinson and Violet Graham – are preparing to mount in London’s West End.
It is the play rival actresses Merry and Gaye would kill to be in, if only they hadn’t insulted the producer all those years ago.
For Robbie and Violet however the road to West End glory is not smooth. There are backers to be appeased, actors to be tamed and a theatre to be found; and in the midst of it all a budding romance that risks being undermined by professional differences.
Never mix business with pleasure?
Maybe, maybe not.
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Patsy Trench has spent her life working in the theatre. She was an actress for twenty
years in theatre and television in the UK and Australia. She has written scripts for stage and (TV) screen and co-founded The Children’s Musical Theatre of London, creating original musicals with primary school children. She is the author of three non fiction books about colonial Australia based on her own family history and four novels about women breaking the mould in times past. Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons is book four in her ‘Modern Women: Entertaining Edwardians’ series and is
set in the world she knows and loves best. When she is not writing books she teaches theatre part- time and organises theatre trips for overseas students.
She lives in London. She has two children and so far one grandson.
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My thoughts: as a lifelong theatre nerd and feminist, this book appealed to me on several levels, both women’s history and theatrical history being things I will happily read about all day long. It was also very clever and funny, which was a bonus. We often think of Edwardians as being quite stuffy and traditional, women being confined to corsets and the house, but plenty of women were working – including as actresses and theatre producers.
And of course the 1900s saw the rise of women’s suffrage as a political cause, with the Pankhursts and Fawcetts at the forefront – both pop up in this story.
But the story belongs to Violet, Merry and Gaye (I have a great-great-aunt Gaye, who was an Edwardian, funny old world!) and to a lesser extent the other women who people it. All three are women making their own way in a world still hostile to the idea that a woman might want more than a husband and children. They’re living alone and making their own money, not relying on fathers or husbands to help them out. Not an easy thing to do, as Merry and Gaye discover as they try to make a go of their double act.
Violet, who once worked for the famous theatre producer Henry Beerbohm Tree, is a little in over her head but Robbie, who loves her, doesn’t really care, and she’s resourceful enough to pull it all together. As the old saying goes – it’ll be all right on the night!
Really enjoyable, funny but with a serious message at its core, this is a highly entertaining and thoughtful read.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.
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1 thought on “Blog Tour: Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons – Patsy Trench”
Thank you for the lovely review Madeleine, much appreciated!
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