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A Long Way from Verona

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  865 ratings  ·  140 reviews
‘I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal having had a violent experience at the age of nine'

Jessica Vye's 'violent experience' colours her schooldays and her reaction to the world around her- a confining world of Order Marks, wartime restrictions, viyella dresses, nicely-restrained essays and dusty tea shops. For Jessica she has been told that she
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Europa Editions (first published 1971)
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3.84  · 
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 ·  865 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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This book is about Jessica, almost thirteen and living in England. We follow her several months in 1940 and 1941. We see the war as a child saw it then – the bombing, the evacuees and food shortages. The war is the background; the central focus is a preteen coming of age, a budding writer and an avid reader. She makes a great role-model for other young to-be writers. She is strong and determined, but also grapples with right and wrong, her own aspirations and worth.

I particularly liked what this
Diane Barnes
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was written in 1971, narrated by a 12 going on 13 year old girl in 1940. Guess what? 1940, 1971, or 2018, nothing changes when it comes to navigating school, boys, and family. Humiliations, embarrassment, fear, parents and teachers who just don't get it, it's all the same. Fortunately for us, Jessica Vye is smart and funny, and Jane Gardam's first novel is a lot of fun to read.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: various-fiction
So ein großes Vergnügen! Von der ersten bis zur letzten Seite!
Wie's aussieht, habe ich ein neues Lieblingsbuch und einen neuen Lieblingbuchscharakter. :))
Jessica Vye ist 13 Jahre alt und weiß immer, was andere Menschen denken. Zusammen mit ihrer entwaffnenden Direktheit ist das eine gefährliche Kombination. Doch wer Jessicas reichlich schlagfertigen Vater erlebt, wundert sich über nichts; bei den Vyes fällt der Apfel offensichtlich nicht weit vom Stamm. Als die Schülerin 9 Jahre alt ist, hält kurz vor Ausbruch des Zweiten Weltkriegs in ihrer Schule ein Schriftsteller namens Hanger einen Vortrag darüber, wie man Autor wird. „Wir alle lieben ihre B ...more
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully observed portrait of a girl who is declared to be a born writer, living in the north of England during World War Two. No doubt she is to some extent a portrait of the young Jane Gardam.

A book written for teenage children, and full of wisdom. Jessica must learn to cope with everyday difficulties at school and home, but then comes face to face with death and destruction during a bombing raid. Over the course of a year, her life changes as she learns to cope with fear and loss.

This w
Rebecca McNutt
A Long Way from Verona, first published in the early Seventies, is a timeless story narrated by a precocious and melodramatic yet traumatized girl whose childhood has been shaped by the harrowing experience of war. This book is short but incredible, and really one worth reading.
Diane S ☔
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
When she was nine, Jessica Vye was told by an author visiting her school that she WAS AN AUTHOR INDEED." This was after she had run home, gotten everything she had written and caught up with the author before he boarded thetrain. He sent her back that message in the mail, several months later. She of course never forgot it and it shaped her life.

World War ll and the world of ration cards, air raid shelters and gas masks had become part of everyday life in England. Jessica is quirky, she is very
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susann by: Nicole F. and Constance
"I don't know if you've noticed but if you want to become one of the English Classics it's a good idea to be up in the top half of the alphabet. There are a tremendous lot of As and Bs and Ds and - down to about H."
Jessica Vye is the English equivalent of Harriet M. Welsh. Smart, blunt, and confident, until she's faced with social situations that she can't quite get a handle on. She's far from perfect, but always true to herself. Gardam's writing is so honest and her characters are so true-to-li
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-1001
Oh my goodness. I’ve just finished a book that has rocketed to the top of my list, and toppled all the other books nearby. It’s my new Favorite Book of All. And you simply must read it, too. It’s an amazing read, with amazing characters and an amazing little story. It’s very odd, but you’ve probably never heard of it and---even odder---you’ve probably even heard of the author. I just came across it by the unlikeliest of chances. It’s on the 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read list, so somebody e ...more
Marcus Ward
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Detailed and curious, this book is really more amazing than four stars. How I got sucked into reading about a 12 year old girl during the war in England would normally be a mystery but the character and writing are so compelling it just happened and now I'm sad the book is over.
Loes Dissel
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Jane Gardam's first novel, published in 1971. Charming, warm and witty.
Claire Fuller
I listened to all of this on a long car journey, and it was really enjoyable (I really liked the narration). I absolutely loved Jessica's voice. She's 13 in 1940 / 41 and looking back first to when she was 9 and met a famous writer. Then we follow her through school where she writes a poem and has various escapades, and is finally disillusioned about the famous writer, but finds her own way. It's charming and sweet, but the story meanders. If you like I Capture the Castle you'll love this.
3.5 s
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bücher liest man ja mit den unterschiedlichsten Erwartungen. Sie sollen einem Gefühle vermitteln, Spannung, Lehrreiches und/oder schlicht die Zeit vertreiben. Dieses Buch entspricht wohl mehr dem Letzteren, wobei es jedoch unfair wäre, es als 'bloße' Unterhaltungsliteratur abzutun, denn dafür ist es viel zu schön geschrieben. Vielleicht ist es eher ein Jugendbuch, denn eine 13jährige erzählt hier von ihrem Leben in England während des II. Weltkrieges. Und das so unglaublich schnodderig und altkl ...more
Every single time I begin a novel by Jane Gardam, I find myself saying the same thing to myself; "This is exactly the sort of book I like." Within pages of A Long Road from Verona I once again found this idea flitting through my brain. I suppose Gardam will fail me someday, perhaps.

I did read other Goodread reviews before beginning mine. I don't often do that. Here are two things I found by doing so. The novel was written for children! Middle grade children. Well, I'll be! The oblique narrative
Caro Reads
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. Wirklich überzeugt hat mich dieses Buch nicht. Es war schräg, aber nicht unbedingt auf gute Art und Weise. Bis auf die letzten 30 Seiten wollte ich erst nur 2 Sterne vergeben, jetzt wären es eher so 2,5. Starker Anfang, starkes Ende, für mich persönlich war aber zu wenig Gutes dazwischen.
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it

Written in 1971, “A Long Way from Verona” is Jane Gardam’s first novel (of over 20 novels.) While her audience was intended to be middle school readers, the novel can certainly be appreciated by adults. Jessica Vye, the central character, is a thirteen year old aspiring wrier in a small, coastal English town during World War II. At the age of nine, a visiting author at her otherwise boring, never-anything-happening-out-of-the-ordinary school excites her author’s heart…”to hell with school. Engli
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Good fun. The world through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl living on the north coast of England during WWII. It's a sweet story, often very funny, and full of eccentricities which is what I love about Jane Gardam. It took me a while to figure out the title but that's part of the experience. I don't think this is a children's or a young adult's novel (re other reviewers). I think it was written for adults to remind them of the torture of being in your early teens. Or is that just me?
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Es war vorher schon klar, dass es nach Han Kangs "Die Vegetarierin" und vor allem "Menschenwerk" jedes Buch bei mir schwer haben würde.
Ich finde es belanglos und auch die Figur "Jessica" eher anstrengend als witzig.
Gardams "Old Filth" hat mir viel besser gefallen.
Roger Brunyate
A Writer Beyond All Possible Doubt
I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine. I will make this clear at once because I have noticed that if things seep out slowly through a book the reader is apt to feel let down or tricked in some way when he eventually gets the point.
What a marvelous opening! Jessica Vye is only twelve or thirteen while she is writing, but it is clear that she has read enough books to have formed firm ide
The sad thing is that this is my very first Gardam novel. I guess we shall see, but this has left me with a less than ideal first impression. Jessica Vye, our "heroine"/narrator is not likable at all to me. I saw her as pretentious, trying all the while to seem the exact opposite. Not that she is not a good, kind, intelligent person. But she is only eleven to thirteen, trying to operate much like in her early twenties. She states that she can only ever be honest, that she can read what people ar ...more
Rachelle Urist
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Long Way From Verona, by Jane Gardam, is a treasure. It’s told from the POV of a 12-13 year old girl, not much younger than Juliet (14) in Romeo & Juliet. The young protagonist, a born writer, as she is told by a published novelist who reads her work, is a feisty, fascinating, and compelling figure who falls in (and quickly out) of love with a boy about her age. He’s handsome, smart and principled, but his ethics allow him to abandon her when they’re in a pinch. She makes her way” back hom ...more
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a pleasant surprise! Thank you, public library! This was on their new books shelf, but it turns out this is a re-issue of a novel published about 40 years ago. It's about a girl growing up in a town by the North Sea during World War II. She has a very distinct personality and voice, and she begins by telling you that she would have been normal except for something terrible that happened to you, which was that an author told her she is a writer. Plus she said she has the ability to know what ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of the very many books(1971)Jane Gardam has written. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I discovered to my surprise on Wikipedia that it is actually a "children's book," stuff I never read. Could have fooled's just a pretty good story very well told.

I am always impressed with the meticulousness of Gardam's prose. First, settings are so well rendered that you feel you are there. Second, and even better, she has a gift for writing dialogue which makes her characters jump o
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Kind of funny...this book has three things that could make it a difficult read. It takes place in England, which I love, but is filled with slang and sometimes tough to decode vocabulary. Then, not only England, but England during the early 1940s...a time period I really like but it truly adds level of difficulty points to the vocabulary. But the icing on the cake is the third thing: it's written in a stream of consciousness style from the point of view of a 12 year old girl.

So yes, there were
Keith Raffel
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am a sucker for a book about authors -- even one who is only 13-years-old. A charming yet profound short novel about what makes a writer. They tell me this is a children's book -- could've fooled me. Set during World War II, it must be somewhat autobiographical. The author, Jane Gardam, was born in 1928 and must have been the same age as the main character,
Sonia Gensler
This was considered a historical when it came out in 1971, and 40+ years later it still perfectly captures the passionate insanity of early teenhood. Such a charming and arresting story. I only just finished the book and already I desperately miss Jessica Vye.
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jessica Vye is a wonderful 13 year old character, smart, outspoken and an individual. I couldn't put the book down I'd finished.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Eigenwillig, poetisch und skurril

„Ich weiß nicht, ob es Ihnen schon mal aufgefallen ist, aber wenn Sie ein Englischer Klassiker werden möchten, empfiehlt es sich, im vorderen Teil des Alphabets zu stehen. Es gibt jede Menge A und B und D, das geht weiter bis ungefähr H.“

Jessica Vye ist gerade mal neun Jahre alt, als ein Autor an ihre Schule kommt und den Schülern etwas vorliest. Inspiriert gibt sie ihm einige ihrer Texte zu lesen – zurück kommt ein Brief: „Jessica Vye, du bist ohne jeden Zweife
"Jessica Vye yearns to become a writer -- but war time, a curate's cramped and chaotic household, and a strict, down-to-earth school are a comically disheartening setting."
~~back cover

I've not been a big reader of school stories and for me this book seemed to fall squarely in that category. Only it also felt amorphous: the party, Christian, the slum excursion, the picture Jessica bought -- I suppose that was the device to draw the reader into Jessica's teenage uncertainty, but it threw me off: I
Jane Gregg
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a stunning work this is. Backlisted podcast brought me here and by crikey they were right.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add audio book version 3 15 May 02, 2019 12:12AM  

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Jane Mary Gardam OBE is a British author of children's and adult fiction. She also reviews for the Spectator and the Telegraph, and writes for BBC radio. She lives in Kent, Wimbledon and Yorkshire. She has won numerous literary awards including the Whitbread Award, twice. She is mother of Tim Gardam, Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford. Jane has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for ...more
“Thank you," he said. "I'm glad you enjoyed it. If there is anyone here this afternoon whom I have convinced that books are meant to be enjoyed, that English is nothing to do with duty, that it has nothing to do with school - with exercises and homework and ticks and crosses - then I am a happy man." He turned away but then he turned back again and he suddenly simply shouted, he bellowed "To hell with school," he cried. "To hell with school. English is what matters. ENGLISH IS LIFE." The Head grabbed him and led him off to her sitting-room for tea, not looking too thrilled, and we were let out and I went flying home.” 2 likes
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