Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

A Large Print Novel

Large Print - 2016
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Jane, a housemaid, and Paul, the young heir of a neighbouring house, have been secret lovers for nearly seven years. On a warm March day in 1924, when Paul is soon to be married, they spend a last day together.
Publisher: Thorndike, Maine : Center Point Large Print, 2016
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9781683240563
Characteristics: 151 pages


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Nov 01, 2018

I read this a second time to pick up on the subtle ways the author hints at the future events. I was intrigued by how small words dropped in just the right places set the tone for this book. Incredibly well-crafted - read once for the story line and the second time to stop and notice the writing itself and how it pulls the reader in while it slowly reveals the story bit by bit.

Sep 12, 2018

This is our October 18 Book Club selection. It is a billed as a romance but from my perspective describes an ongoing sexual/physical relationship between a a lower class house maid and an aristocrat. It illuminates the relationship between classes as it was in 1924 . I did enjoy the description of Jane becoming a writer and her perspective on writing and the writing life from the age of 90.

Sep 06, 2018

This novella takes place in the course of a single pivotal day of lush loving as well as heartbreak, with backward looking exposition and omniscient narration projected into the future. To me, it feels like a short story Swift has padded with much repetition and halting, phrase-strewn sentence structure. (In my head I hear the narrator’s voice as actor Bill Nighy.) However, this repetition is similar to what certain memories do – they play over and over in the mind like a mesmerizing dream. Like a poet playing with words …which is what Jane does so successfully, breaking out of the class she was born into to become a well known writer.

Dec 30, 2017

This is a quick read and a delightful book. It is a thoughtful accompaniment to the Pat Barker trilogy on World War I, revealing some of the aftereffects of that war on English culture.

Apr 01, 2017

Slow to get started, but took on a lovely hue as the character developed depth and nuance.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Dec 18, 2016

I stumbled across this by way of NPR's book concierge, and I'm so glad I did. This is an extremely short book -- almost more of a novella than a proper novel -- and yet it packs quite a punch. It's the story of a single day in one maid's life in 1924, and also the story of her entire life and all that spread out as a result of the events of that day. It's quiet, thoughtful, beautifully written, and I was left thinking about it long after I'd read the last page.

Dec 13, 2016

The story is written at the pace of a slow embrace. A close and silent, soul embracing relationship is the profound experience from which the writer bases the narrative. The main character, Jane Fairchild, tells her story from various points of age reminding us of the interpretations and questions from which we base our own truth. The end leaves the reader with a satisfactory sigh.

Oct 12, 2016

A novella about a woman whose life spanned the twentieth century. She recalls a day in 1924 and its impact on the rest of her life, from maid to writer. It is interesting that she is reading Conrad on this momentous day and that the novella itself could be described as Conradian.

Sep 22, 2016

This small novella by Graham Swift is an exemplar of the genre, written by a master. Swift takes a small image and spins it into something tight and intricate, but with threads that could lead into something larger. In this case, the image is a woman lying naked among the tangled sheets in a sun-filled room in an empty house.

Her lover Paul has just stood up from the bed, and he looks back at her as he dresses. It is 1924, Mothering Sunday. In the drab and aching days after WWI, Paul is the only remaining son of the Sheringham family, with his two older brothers killed in the war. Jane is an orphan, a housemaid in a neighbouring house. Their relationship is an illicit secret, impossible to bring into the open.

For those few gentry families still clinging to a vanishing world of big houses and servants, Mothering Sunday is always an inconvenience. Their hired help are given the whole day off to visit their own mothers, leaving their employers to make their own arrangements. But, as an orphan, Jane has no mother to visit and so she has the whole day to herself- or so she thought. Paul has other ideas.

This book is only 132 pages in length, and it is just right. The language is explicit and fruity, but the narrative voice wistful and melancholy. Swift foreshadows the ending right from the start, and the tension in moving towards that ending is so painful that I wouldn’t have wanted it to go for another page longer. It was so beautifully written, however, than I wouldn’t wish for a single page less, either.

Sep 18, 2016

Hmmm, this book is like the first three chapters of an early 19th century novel. Not too much action, but lots of thoughts about it. Light, easy to read, not too many calories, lemon meringue made with Sweet & Lo.

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