Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift.
This new offering from Booker Award winner Graham Swift was very well received by the Elanora Library First Thursday Bookclub members this month.
The novel is set on mothering Sunday in 1924 in rural England and narrated by twenty-two year old Jane Fairchild who was orphaned at birth and “in service” as a maid one English country estate since she was sixteen. For almost all of those years Jane was the secret lover of Paul Sheringham, the sole surviving son and heir from a neighborhood estate.
All of the servants from both households have been granted the day off to visit their mothers, leaving the gentry to fend for themselves for lunch, and Jane and Paul take advantage of their absence to indulge in one last tender tryst before Paul marries the aristocratic woman he has been groomed for.
A tragic event unfolds on this April day that will have devastating consequences for everyone.
As narrator Jane is 90 years old and reflecting on her whole life in general and this one day and its momentous events in particular. Jane became a successful novelist later on in her life and the narrative cleverly covers just this one day and her whole lifetime at once.
In this era between the Great Wars change is in the air for the landed gentry and the class that serves them and Jane’s story highlights some of these changes.
Beautifully written, and at 190 pages almost short enough to be classed as a novella and read in one (long) sitting, this novel is still long enough to contain all the elements of a truly great read with just enough tension and teasers to keep you interested.