This delightful novel describes the post-war summer of 1946 - and follows the growing-up of three young women in the months between leaving school and taking up their scholarships at university. Una Vane, whose widowed mother runs a hairdressing salon in her front room, goes bicycling with Ray, the boy who delivers the fish and milk. Hetty Fallowes struggles to become independent of her possessive, loving, tactless mother. And Lieselotte Klein, who had arrived in 1939 on a train from Hamburg, uncovers tragedy in the past and magic in the present.
©2000 Jane Gardam;
Single white female. MFA candidate in poetry at NC State University. Instructor of freshman composition. Mother of two beautiful cats.
I was actually directed to this book and this author by a brilliant lit professor of mine. And I suppose I might recommend it as well, but then I might not. The writing itself is more than competent, quietly funny, and the characters feel very authentic. But this is not a book for someone looking to lose herself in a lively adventure, succumb to side-splitting, tear-jerking, sleeplessness, or nail-biting. It follows its own pace, and reads almost like memoir, despite being written in the 3rd person. Barrie does a good job with the narration (which seems particularly tricky in this novel) though her take on the American accent is somewhat, er... different. A sort of female John Wayne. Overall, the book is solid. Likable, but for me... not quite lovable.
"A charming book"
This is a poignant story of the lives of three girls during and just after the Second World War and largely describes what happened to each of them during the short interval between their final exams at school and when they left home a few months later to go up to University. All three girls have action-packed adventures! The individual stories explore experiences of the transition to independent adult-hood that will be familiar to listeners of any generation: what does one want to do in life; relationships with the opposite sex; the desire to, and the fear of, leaving home for the first time; and the need to separate oneself a bit from motherly love. The book is full of humour counter-balanced by sadness and regret that are the ingredients of life.
My parents went through the War so the fears and privations of the girls? lives are familiar territory and I would guess that the book would be even more evocative to those who would be contemporaries of the characters.
The pleasure of the book is greatly enhanced by June Barrie?s excellent narration and ability to perform so many different accents ranging in age, gender and social origin.
"Jane Gardam never disappoints"
Near the top of any list.
'The Ruffian on the stair' read by Bill Wallis. Superbly drawn characters, all of them, even the minor ones
She is a superb narrator, clearly differentiating the characters and being consistent throughout. - it is apparent that she has done a lot of reading/preparation before committing to tape.
It reminded my of my own end-of-schooldays and preparation for university.
I have recommended the book to several friends. Some listened via Audible, some read hard copy, all greatly enjoyed it.
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