Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift... A Review

Can I even do justice to this book? Mothering Sunday: a Romance by Graham Swift is beautiful, quiet, passionate, sensual. Filled with heartache, longing, books and secrets. Oh yes, the secrets... Jane, the maid, the orphan, the clever girl, the lover of Paul, the boy who's won her heart, owns her body and is the son of the wealthy family in the estate next to her employers estate and has been having secret trysts for years, since she was 17 and he was 18, until the one day, Mothering Sunday, where Jane will have her last day with him, because he will be getting married to a girl of his own "station" in two weeks time.

This book is a romance, but it is so much more than that. It is a play on words, a fairy tale, a look at a wonderful character who by 1920's convention is a lowly maid,  but who after a brilliantly wonderful morning turns into the darkest day of her life, will open herself up to be the person she really is meant to be.

The book flows wonderfully from present day 1924 England to flashbacks of Jane's childhood, her beginnings as a maid, and her coming into her present situation. We also meet Jane as an old woman, reflecting back on her life and what her life has ultimately become... a life of secrets.

I don't really want to give away any spoilers here, but let me say that Graham Swift's storytelling is simple wonderful. And his prose is beautiful. He brings to life the period of time in England, where maids were the keeper of the house (and their secrets) and their station in life well defined. But Swift plays with convention here, as Jane is an equal in her relationship with the wealthy boy, and we see how she is so much more than the clothes she wears. Though she knows the part she is to play. And Swift plays with the reader too, because he hints at things and quietly tells us things so important we could miss them if we weren't hanging on every word that is painted effortlessly across the page. There is a subtleness in the way he reveals the earth shattering news that Mother Sunday brings, like being shot with a silencer. I am still recovering. But at a mere 177 pages, Mothering Sunday is a powerful, sensual read. A story so tightly woven that no more pages are needed to feel its impact. I loved this book. And have already gone back and reread passages that I wanted to hear again. 5 stars from this reader! An enjoyable read for anyone who enjoys literary fiction. A book not to rush through, but to leisurely enjoy.

I want to thank Knopf Doubleday Publishing for the opportunity to read Mothering Sunday prior to publication, and allowing me to share this with my Chick with Books readers!

P.S. Mothering Sunday refers to the Sunday in which all maids go to see their Mothers.  


2 comments:

Harvee Lau - Book Dilettante said...

I have put this on my list. Always enjoy good literary fiction!

Suzanne Yester said...

Definitely a good read, Harvee! I just ordered another Graham Swift novel because I enjoyed his writing.

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