The Third Miss Symons by Flora MacDonald Mayor is an odd little book. In 88 pages, it sums up the life of Miss Henrietta Symons, the third daughter of cold, child-hating parents. Not only do her parents not like kids but they especially do not like Etta. She isn't pretty or charming or agreeable like the other children. She's plain and peevish. They make their feelings very obvious. This makes Etta a bit nutty, as you can imagine. She clings to anyone who shows her any affection which only ends up driving them away from her. She feels every emotion more than other people, including anger and jealousy.
Having sisters should be a blessing, right? Ah, no. She's always the third wheel. When she finds a guy who likes her, her sister steals him away just for kicks. Yeah, the siblings are as lovely as the parents. She never gets over it. She turns very bitter. As an old lady spinster, she travels all over Europe but she takes no pleasure in it. She's only killing time.
So, it doesn't sound like a thrilling story and I admit I had some difficulties with it at times. I wobbled between feeling sorry for Etta and annoyed with her. If only she tried to be more likable, she might have had a better life. She can't get out of her own way. But she is what she is and in a time when a woman had to be charming and adorable, you have to admire her curmudgeonly ways. And... I hate to admit it but I see a bit of myself in Etta. I'm not one of those people who others just gravitate towards and want to be friends with. I also have my curmudgeonly moments.
I don't think this will be a book for everyone but I thought it was interesting. It is beautifully written. Henrietta is a character I will be thinking about for a long time.
I read this free from Girlebooks.