Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Greengage Summer” as Want to Read:
The Greengage Summer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Greengage Summer

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,004 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages ...
Paperback, 187 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by MacMillan General Books (first published 1958)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Greengage Summer, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Hannah I thought the twenties, too! Those graveyards that are mentioned are from WWI. In the foreword the author also says that the books is partly…moreI thought the twenties, too! Those graveyards that are mentioned are from WWI. In the foreword the author also says that the books is partly autobiographic, which makes the period after WWI all the more likely, given her year of birth is 1907.(less)
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyBeloved by Toni MorrisonGlittering Images by Susan HowatchThe Saga of the Century by Rebecca WestSilver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Favorite Women's Fiction
37th out of 42 books — 6 voters
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William ShakespeareThe Winter's Tale by William ShakespeareUncle Fred in the Springtime by P.G. WodehouseSilent Spring by Rachel CarsonThe Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Four Seasons
177th out of 248 books — 24 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,766)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 02, 2012 ·Karen· rated it really liked it
Shelves: brits, mttbr-2012

Greengages, or reines-claudes.

This must have been lurking on the back shelf in the spare bedroom for years, ever since I bought it on a bookseller's recommendation as a way of weaning a teen off Jacqueline Wilson and onto something slightly more grown-up. As one of those serendipitous side-effects of a bit of general tidying (tidying bookshelves, yay!), it came with me for my morning coffee and I just read it straight through in one sitting. A bittersweet evocation of August days in the Champagn
The Greengage Summer is a coming-of-age novel based on a real summer in Rumer Godden’s life. Reading it was like traveling back to 1920s France and a time when childhood was slower and summer days were longer because there just wasn’t so much to do. Cecil, the second oldest Grey daughter, as the narrator was delightful. This was Rumer as a child and it was during this memorable trip to France she learned some things which would stay with her forever.

The five English children—Joss, Cecil, Hester,
Jan 22, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'On and off , all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the Greengages.....

A wonderful coming of age novel .
Love and deceit in the Champagne country of the Marne.
I found this charming with atmosphere of a hot summer where the Grey children stay in Les Oeillets while their mother recovers in hospital.
No one is quite what they seem and what happens in this tale of young innocence?
Beautifully written.
Apr 29, 2016 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
Full five stars without need to round up. This 13 year old's (Cecil is her name) tale of a summer spent at a hotel in France during the 1920's is magnificent.

It has succulent fruit, ripe and golden, and all of it is not in the orchard. It has depth of change, childhood leaving. It has stunning elegance in parts. Cecil's favorite new word (elegance). It has the reality of parental absence and the fears of the unknown. It has the entire ambiance of the Large over the Small. It has intrigue and dis
A lyrical, atmospheric family story, with a surprising amount of suspense and some great plot twists at the end. I wonder if Rumer Godden wrote for the stage; The Greengage Summer is perfectly structured in three acts with all the plot points in just the right places. I would love to see this in the hands of a modern director with a really good ensemble cast and a fine cinematographer. Meanwhile, the book is absolutely wonderful. I’ll tell you about Act 1, but leave you properly in suspense abou ...more

This wasn't at all what I expected but in a good way. It's not my usual type of book so I was a little surprised that I liked it so much I read it in one sitting only putting it down for absolute necessities.

Ostensibly a coming of age story about the awakening of sexuality, it deals with ordinary people put in an extraordinary situation where unworldly children (ranging in ages from sixteen to four years old are suddenly thrust into a very worldly adult environment without proper supervision. H
Andrew Smith
Feb 06, 2011 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it
Inspired by my re-reading of a childhood favourite, Rumer Godden’s ‘An Episode of Sparrows,’ I decided to read what is probably Godden’s best-known book, ‘The Greengage Summer.’ I figured that anything by Godden would be worth the investment, and as 'The Greengage Summer’ had been made into a film (starring a young Susannah York), I didn’t think I’d be disappointed. I wasn’t mistaken; ‘The Greengage Summer’ is an engaging read on various levels.
For me the most pleasurable aspect is Godden’s abi
Jan 06, 2010 Moppet rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, france, 1950s
The Greengage Summer is about children but not a children’s book. I’m not sure how to classify it: it’s somewhere between YA and general fiction. In a nutshell, Cecil (Cecilia) Grey narrates the story of what happened the summer she and her siblings spent at a hotel in the Champagne region of France.

There’s no one to supervise them because their father is absent on an expedition and their mother falls ill as soon as they arrive in France and spends several weeks in a French hospital, leaving the
Feb 12, 2013 Tony rated it it was amazing
THE GREENGAGE SUMMER. (1958). Rumer Godden. *****.
My experience with Rumer Godden’s writings has been limited. I’ve read two of her works: “Black Narcissus,” and “The River.” I can also recommend the film made from “The River” directed by Jean Renoir. I found this novel to be excellent. It starts off as a sleeper, but you soon get involved with the characters and are caught up in their adventures. A mother from a small town in England decides that her children need to explore something differen
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This was a nice lazy summer read. I blew through it in a couple of days. It's about five English children whose parents are unavailable. Father is in Tibet collecting plants and Mother is in hospital. The children spend the summer at a little country hotel in France and get a worldly education they weren't expecting. They discover just how dastardly grown-ups can be.

The funniest character is Willmouse, the only boy in the family, who is more like a girl than any of his four sisters. Willmouse i
What can I say? Loved it! My first Rumer Godden and I daresay it will not be the last. I wanted the story to go on and on.

I want to make a quick note of two cute references she had in there: the children called their patchy clothes their "scarecrows"...I loved that. And because it was a family of 5, they referred to the youngest children as the Littles...and we do the same thing! Only we have the Middles too.
I re-read this book every 10 years or so, yet always manage to forget important plot points in the years in-between, which only adds to my reading pleasure. It's really a perfect little book, (minus some dated political incorrectness,) with an incredible sense of place and time, a French village in the 1950s. When their mother takes ill and is hospitalized while on a family vacation to see the battlefields of France, five British children are left to fend for themselves in a small hotel, with mi ...more
John Mccullough
Mar 06, 2014 John Mccullough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of a family of extremely bright, precocious children caught between childhood and adulthood. It is fictionalised autobiography. It is about 1923. An English mother decides to take her bratty lot to France to show them the sacrifices made for them in The Great War. She is bitten by a fly and becomes extremely ill on he way to the Marne, is hospitalised and the children are alone at the hotel of mother's choice but without mother. However, they are not alone as the mother's role is ...more
Jun 26, 2010 Ali rated it really liked it
‘The Greengage summer like other Rumer Godden novels I have read is wonderfully evocotive of place. There is a constant feeling of a hot and hazy summer, of being in a place that is both exciting and strange, where one is never sure who is who, and what is what. The story of the 5 siblings (Joss 16, Cecil 13, Hester 10 Willmouse 7 and vicky 4) told by Cecil of a summer spent in a rural French hotel. Their mother is ill in a local hospital and so they come under the "care" of Eliot a mysterious E ...more
Pam Saunders
Aug 29, 2015 Pam Saunders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read from way back as book group are discussin Rumer Godden. The Greengage summer is set in mid 1920's (I think), when a quirky family (Dad is rarely around, he travels) is taken to France by their mother to make them appreciate what they have but the mother falls ill, vanishes off to hospital and the five children are left to run wild whilst staying at a hotel in a small French village. It is an experience beyond anything they have had before, the exotic French food and attitudes ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
I have very dim memories of the BBC television series The Dolls' House which aired during my early childhood, then I read Rumer Godden's book upon which it was based when I was nine - this was a slightly patronising attitude since the book was clearly too young for me. It was a big lie - I just loved it. I felt genuine sadness when I read recently that The Dolls' House is not only out of print but recordings have also been destroyed. It was a far more haunting imagination of the secret life of t ...more
Sally Tarbox
"Ever afterwards in our family, we called it the greengage summer", May 10, 2016 This review is from: The Greengage Summer (Ki, 11 May 2016

This review is from: The Greengage Summer (Kindle Edition)
Evocative account of five English children on holiday in France sometime after WW1. When Mother has to go to hospital almost immediately, they are left in the 'care' of the hotel staff: snappy Madame Corbet, kitchen-hand Paul, Mlle Zizi - and the English beau of the latter, the charming Eliot. But as
Jan 10, 2011 Zoe rated it really liked it
Rachel bought me a new copy this week when I discovered to my shock that it was not on my shelves! How could I have lost it? I devoured it again in 48 hours - soothing my coughing nights. A truly idyllic description of crazy French holidays, and the revelation that I had not spotted (25 odd years ago when I first read this) that Willmouse was obviously gay. A re-read must. Now on to the Peacock Spring.
Mar 22, 2016 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that I actually bought for my 11 year old daughter, but ended up reading it myself. I think she will enjoy it when she's a bit older. Was it a young person's book?

Well, it has the "coming of age" story, the narrator being about 14 or so. It is based upon a true event in the author's life, which makes it all the more intriguing. It has a good plot, and the children are drawn very appealingly, especially little Willmouse. the only (possibly gay?) boy in the family. He is a budding dress des
Angela Boord
Nov 19, 2015 Angela Boord rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century, fiction
I love Rumer Godden's writing, and I would have given this one 5 stars except that the Preface in this edition should have been an afterword, as it gave away too much of the story... And the ending of the book was so abrupt. But overall a lot of gorgeous writing.
Aug 28, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it
I am really enjoying Godden's books right now. I love how everything fell into place towards the end- I couldn't read fast enough to see how it ended. Anyway, it was a good read. planning on looking for more of her books
At the library.
Mar 10, 2016 Lucina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in the attractive Folio edition, which always add a pleasure to reading for me. However, if you have this edition, be warned: do not read the introduction by Rumer Godden until afterwards! Ms Godden's intro is very interesting because she tells of the true events in her life which inspired the novel but it contains a fact about a character which completely spoils an event near the end of the book.

As for the novel's content: it's filled with the sunshine and warmth of a summer in rura
Nov 20, 2008 Denis rated it really liked it
Another of Godden's deceitfully simple novels. Wonderfully written, perfectly evocative, and filled with tenderness. Godden knows about childhood and knows how to write about it.
Sep 03, 2007 Dottie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this was one of the earliest I read of Godden's and I loved it and revisited it at least once -- she is one of my authorial obssessions, I confess.
Carey Combe
Sep 05, 2012 Carey Combe rated it really liked it
Shelves: whimsy
So evocative, with beautifully drawn characters and poignant scenes. Loved this
Dec 09, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is so underrated! I loved it - a perfect read for summer.
Sian Rogers
Aug 25, 2015 Sian Rogers rated it it was amazing
I came back recently from my first holiday to Normandy set on reading this again. I had read it as a romantic and impressionable 14 year old. Returning to it aged 41 I wasn't let down. It is an utterly evocative book that catches a girl as she becomes a woman in this dreamlike landscape of post war France where she is watching the grown up antics of lovers and conspirators. Descriptions of the food at a provincial feast, getting drunk for the first time and eating greengages straight of the tree ...more
June Geiger
Jan 03, 2016 June Geiger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rumer Godden spins words into gold.
Feb 15, 2009 Carol rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read.
Oct 19, 2011 Georgina rated it liked it
This is one of those books that has been at the back of my mind for years as it seemed, always, to be being read on Woman's Hour when I was young. I found a copy for 20p being retired at my local library - so here, after many decades, goes.

Very good, very readable. The sustained voice of Cecil as narrator was thoroughly believable. The family were of that very particular, post-war English eccentric variety - all very Railway Children - with absent father and distracted mother, enabling the child
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 58 59 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Time setting for The Greengage Summer 1 6 Feb 16, 2013 12:28PM  
  • The God Stealer and Other Stories
  • The Old Testament (Great Courses, #653)
  • The Price to Pay: A Muslim Risks All to Follow Christ
  • The D. Case or The Truth About The Mystery Of Edwin Drood
  • Bells of Nagasaki (Japan's Modern Writers)
  • The Mandelbaum Gate
  • Teresa of Ávila: An Extraordinary Life
  • Two Under the Indian Sun
  • The Poet and the Lunatics
  • With God in Russia
  • Letters from the Desert
  • A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of Saint Camillus de Lellis
  • The Idea of a University
  • The Fathers
  • The Last Crusader: A Novel about Don Juan of Austria
  • When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings
  • Gossip from Thrush Green (Thrush Green, #6)
  • Exiles
She was born in Sussex, England, but grew up in India, in Narayanganj. Many of her 60 books are set in India. Black Narcissus was made into a famous movie with Deborah Kerr in 1947.

Godden wrote novels, poetry, plays, biographies, and books for children.

For more information, see the official website: Rumer Godden
More about Rumer Godden...

Share This Book

“On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages. Joss and I felt guilty; we were still at the age when we thought being greedy was a childish fault and this gave our guilt a tinge of hopelessness because, up to then, we had believed that as we grew older our faults would disappear, and none of them did.” 5 likes
“When one came to know them it was surprising how childish grown people could be.” 4 likes
More quotes…