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Grand Days

(Edith Trilogy #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  566 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A contemporary romantic Australian masterpiece, Grand Days tells of the moral and sexual awakening of an idealistic young Australian woman working in the diplomatic corps in Europe in the aftermath of World War I.

On a train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry meets Major Ambrose Westwood in the dining car, and allows him to kiss her passionately. Their early
Paperback, 678 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Random House (Vintage) (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  566 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book Club reading for April / May Grand Days, by Frank Moorhouse seemed to me to be a huge task and having not read any Frank Moorhouse books before I approached the task with some trepidation - 718 pages! The original book was 1st published in 1993 and this edition 2011.

The main character, Edith Campbell Berry, is an is an idealistic young Australia joining the diplomatic corp in Europe following World War 1. On a train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry meets Major Ambrose Westwood in
Jane Messer
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've come to this novel, the first of the trilogy long after it was first published. It's a commitment, it is a long book, but well worth the time you will spend in its world.

Edith Campbell Berry is an intriguing mix of zealot, innocent, accidental vamp and serious young woman deeply committed to world peace in the years leading to the Second World War when no one had any idea that that war was going to come. Much of the novel's undercurrent is concerned with manners, rituals and diplomacy - in
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a story about the early days of the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations. It is told from the perspective of a young Australian woman, Edith Berry. In a train ride to Geneva she meets a man from the League of Nations named Ambrose and starts an affair that was to last her early days in the League.

This was not quite what I expected given the cover. I did like the character of Edith and I thought they explored Ambrose's sexual orientation respectfully. It is a hefty read
Jan 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donated
Uggh. This book dragged. I should have given up on it each time I thought I should, but I kept reading in the hopes it may get better. It didn't. By the end the only character I even sort of liked had been sacrificed and there was nothing left to hold my interest. I finished the book, only to say I had. I will definitely not be searching out the remaining books in the trilogy.

Overall, it was too long, too wandering, too vague, and had much too much sex. I had hoped there would be more on the
Rob Carseldine
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love the character of Edith Campbell-Berry and Frank Moorhouse's writing. He writes characters not so much plots. It seems to me that the plot is there to support the characters. It also covers a part of history (The League of Nations era) that I had not read about previously. This is a long book and I could understand some readers finding it slow going. However, if you like great writing and strong characters this is a gem.
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
A delightful surprise. Moorhouse has created a great character and evoked the spririt of the era with panache. Both Edith's strengths and faults invite the reader to consider their own development of the self. I'm sorry I didn't read this when it was first published. Will definitely read the other books in the series. I seem to have fallen into an era with my reading of late. This is the fourth book this year dealing with the period 'between the wars' and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's taken me a while to get to this, but now I can't wait to finish the Edith trilogy. I have such respect for Frank Moorhouse - the writing is wonderfully lucid, the characters indelible and the background events both fascinating and little discussed today, despite their relevance to - just about everything.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
3+ stars. I enjoyed bits of this book enormously, I was even compelled to read parts to my partner. At other times Edith could become quite irritating.
I also couldn't help but read her as a metaphor for Australia emerging onto the international scene. I will be reading the other two books.
Sophia Walter
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It felt like an almost hedonistic read, not just because of some of the tastefully risqué content but because it is such a fulfilling storyline with a main character I strongly related to.
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Unnecessarily made shallow for the purpose of targeting what audience? A missed opportunity for a good historical novel on The League of Nations and its times. Such a pity.
Bob Harris
Mar 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
I read more than half of this 600 page tome, hoping it would improve. I just got to where I was hoping it would go.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Superlative writing.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
The historical parts about the League of Nations were interesting, but the protagonist less so.
Francene Carroll
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a thick book and I got through it fast, meaning that there must have been something about it that compelled me to keep reading, but I can't quite put my finger on what this was. I'm giving it 3 stars for the fact that I didn't have to force myself to read it.

Before I go any further though I have to get this off my chest: Edith Campbell Berry is annoying.

As a young Australian woman embarking on a new life in Geneva with the League of Nations, her story is an interesting one and Moorhouse
Rob Walter
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a really wonderful book. There's a clarity and precision to the prose which I haven't seen in any other Australian novel. Too often Australian writers aim for the vernacular and use a style that tries to imitate speech. Moorhouse, on the other hand, seems to acknowledge that written fiction has its own discourse and trusts that an Australian style will emerge without having to reach for it. Consequently we get a lucid description of events and a wonderful insight into the mind of the ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, dnf
Could not get past page 20. Felt like each character's thoughts echoed back and forth 3 times. They weren't even interesting thoughts.
Margaret Small
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Even though Annabel Crabbe, who I admire greatly, apparently likes the central character, Edith Campbell Berry, I don't much, although she's given me a lot to think about. At the beginning of the book Edith, who is on her way to Switzerland to join the League of Nations seems to be trying to live her life by Rules. Thankfully she throws them off fairly quickly. She starts an affair with the very first man she meets, and that turns out badly, mainly for him. Encouraged by her friends, she engages ...more
Maddie Barton
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
a beautifully awkward and tender coming of age novel. The novel (the first and best of three) is an intricate character study of Edith Campbell Berry who is a fantastic heroine, carefully articulated by Moorhouse's unique syntax, she represents a particular period - the post WW1 optimism, as well as the strange condition of being a young Australian woman desperate to find a place and identity for herself outside of Australian shores (I would argue that this strange condition persists among many ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I wanted to read this book because it is a favourite of the political journalist Annabel Crab and I am a fan of her so even though this is an historical fiction novel I decided to give it a go. It was fantastic and just like Annabel Crab I too would like to be tha main protagonist, Edith Campbell Berry. I loved the fact that this was an historical novel that had some historical 'facts' at the end and a list of the characters and who was REAL and who was imaginary. Well done Frank Moorhouse! ...more
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this book. While I very much like the writing style and introspective detail, I just couldn't continue to read about Edith Campbell Berry's frequent bouts of complete stupidity. Why on earth she would give her business card to a crackpot like "Captain Strongbow" who bails her up at a street cafe is completely beyond me. Why on earth she would accept his gift of a revolver is similarly beyond me.

Much is made of her long experience with organisations ("I've been taking meeting
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in sagas
Recommended to MFC by: Mark
Enjoyed this - but definitely a 'holiday' read with 700 pages. I loved learning about the League of Nations, the politics of it all and buracracy the same as anywhere. Edith is delightful - especially the opening chapter where she has her personal rules of conversation and etiquette which she designed for herself in her passage to Europe via ship. Interesting as an Australian University educated woman in that era - and the social scene (although quite spiced up by Moorhouse). I keep imagining ...more
Chris Walker
Feb 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Against the backdrop of the history of the League of Nations and littered with real persons from those times I found this book quite interesting in capturing the sentiments and atmosphere of those days. However, the heroine Edith can be quite irritating and her acts of heroism I felt were a little contrived. I was fearful for Ambrose and his predilections in those rising fascist times in which the book is set but it is Edith who turns out to be abused for embracing alternative practises and who ...more
Oct 15, 2012 rated it liked it
I think it is actually worth 3 1/2 stars. The history of the League of Nations is fascinating, however, Moorhouse is a wonderful writer but I do think he was far too long-winded at times (a la Rushdie), especially with his vast descriptions of Edith's rules for living. I think it was because of his verbosity that I have probably unfairly judged Edith at pompous,rigid and "holier than thou" despite the sexuality. I also think Moorhouse would like his readers to see Edith as an adventurous, ...more
Very enjoyable - long but easy to read.
Edith Berry is a mid 20 year old Australian woman who comes to work at the League of Nations. She is a firm believer of the League but being naive finds her initial days a series of embarrassments. She soon finds herself and is recognised as someone who gets things done.
She also discovers her sexuality and for a book that has the workings of the League's secretariat, it has an interesting mix of the exotic and the mundane.
An interesting look at the League
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and thought provoking - this first book in the Edith Trilogy, follows Edith, a young Australian, to her first posting with the League of Nations in Geneva. I haven't read any Moorhouse and found his style very interesting - mainly character based (rather than plot driven) and he manages to capture the feel of the 1920's very well. a great one to get your teeth into over the christmas break!
Interesting and thought provoking - this first book in the Edith Trilogy, follows Edith, a young Australian, to her first posting with the League of Nations in Geneva. I haven't read any Moorhouse and found his style very interesting - mainly character based (rather than plot driven) and he manages to capture the feel of the 1920's very well. a great one to get your teeth into over the christmas break!
Patrick Lenton
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
'Grand Days' is one of my favourite books in the world. The protagonist, Edith is this wonderful character and I found myself able to live inside her head quite comfortably. The fact that it's all set around the creation of The League of Nations is fascinating in itself, and the touches of authenticity that Moorhouse provides - jargon, drinks popular at the time, social mores, all help flesh out the feeling of a momentous time and place in history.
Martha Skelley
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a read, eh? I picked this book up while traveling in Australia and greatly enjoyed most of it. A reader must enjoy political policy jargon and a long read. Towards the end my patience started to run thin, but Moorehouse redeemed himself with the last 80 pages or so. I now look forward to reading the rest of the books in the trilogy.
Kim Elith
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
This is an interesting and intriguing book - I didn't know anything about the era to the League beyond a few key dates learnt in Modern History - Edith Berry is an endearing protagonist - it's a coming of age story for both her and the rapidly changing world. Loved the parallels between her public and personal worlds. Looking forward to reading the next in the series.
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Moorhouse is perhaps best known for winning the 2001 Miles Franklin Literary Award for his novel, Dark Palace; which together with Grand Days and Cold Light, the "Edith Trilogy" is a fictional account of the League of Nations, which trace the strange, convoluted life of a young woman who enters the world of diplomacy in the 1920s through to her involvement in the newly formed International Atomic ...more

Other books in the series

Edith Trilogy (3 books)
  • Dark Palace
  • Cold Light
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“Remember the words of Taine: “for a young person the world always seems a scandalous place”. Later in life, the world seems only to be an imperfect place which can be worked on here and there. I’m told that finally, in old age, the world becomes either infinitely amusing or infinitely annoying — according to one’s temperament.” 2 likes
“But he had the look also of a man who had thought his way through to another wiser place. To a wiser but not a happier place.” 0 likes
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