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The Greengage Summer (Macmillan Collector's Library)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,509 ratings  ·  175 reviews
Greengage Summer
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published May 18th 2017 by Macmillan Collector's Library (first published 1958)
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Louise Culmer It's the 20s. It is actually loosely based on a real episode in Rumer Godden's life, you can read about it in her autobiography a Time to dance, No…moreIt's the 20s. It is actually loosely based on a real episode in Rumer Godden's life, you can read about it in her autobiography a Time to dance, No time to weep. Cecil and Joss are based on Rumer and her older sister Jon.(less)
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4.02  · 
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 ·  1,509 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars.

Greengage plums

In this 1958 novel by Rumer Godden (one of those once well-known authors that I’d never heard of before I started hanging out online with GR friends who love older books), five English children, ages 5 to 16, are taken by their mother to France for an educational vacation - touring the battlefields of France so they’ll have more appreciation for the sacrifices of others. The kids will get a life lesson, all right: it’s just not the one their mother intended.

Their mothe
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Because this book was first published in 1958 & my edition was a Puffin Plus Reprint I was expecting a 1950s style teen book - & this book quite definitely wasn't.

It is like serving yourself a bowl of muesli, expecting a healthy breakfast & finding it has been heavily sweetened.

Or going to a movie expecting a new version of The Sound of Music & discovering it is more like Last Tango in Paris.

Great products, but you feel mislead by the packaging.

Greengage Blossoms

A mother tak
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mttbr-2012, brits

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 19, 2016 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.
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
Andrew Smith
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Retro Reads group read Jan. 2019
This was my first book by Rumer Godden and quite a surprise. I had never even heard of her though I recognize the titles of a few. I found this rather slow at first, but it certainly picked up speed as it went along. I loved the narrator's intelligence and insight into the many characters and events which evolved rather slowly. The sentences in French were rather annoying but some of it was explained so not too bad. I was appalled at the neglect of these children
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Five children are put up in a hotel in France after their mother falls desperately ill and is hospitalized. They are to name this time period, "Greengage Summer" after all the plums they ate in the hotel orchard.
Here at the hotel there is intrigue, mystery, love affairs and coming of age angst, as well as peaceful days of summer exploration.

While it seems like this is a book for kids, it's not really, as it deals with some rather adult themes. Nothing explicit but a child would be puzzled as to
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was recently reminded of this book by Godden, which I had read several years ago. I recall enjoying it and think that perhaps I should refresh my memory and read it again!
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
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know I first read The Greengage Summer as a girl, and was mostly puzzled then at how different it was from Godden's children's books - how unsettled and lacking in resolution. Reading it again as an adult, it was absolutely glorious, redolent of summer, and smarting with the realization of ambiguity that is so important to the best coming-of-age novels.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Megan Horstmann
How do I love this novel? Let me count the ways.....You know how you get a taste in your mouth for a certain kind of book, just as you might for a certain kind of fruit? I was hankering after a good, humane, warm, smart and funny story, one that was not self-conscious or tortured, one I could sit by the pool and linger over. That was when Rumer Godden's name drifted into my mind--I had loved her work as a teenager, so I chose this one. And it delivered. Her writing is pared down, precise and low ...more
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Coleman
Beautifully told story of an English girl's coming of age in a French village in the 1950s. The sumptuous descriptions of summer in the idyllic French countryside are counterpoint to a potent account of the less-than-idyllic behavior of a group of adults at a small hotel and their influence on the five children entrusted to their care.

Godden's split point of view adds dimension and depth to the story, lifting it beyond young adult novel territory. Most of the time, she is 13-year-old Cecil (shor
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such an evocative book! I feel like I just spent a summery month in a French hotel... with a charming yet creepy man and enigmatic staff.

So... the story was quite different from what I was expecting! I mean, it wasn't at first. But then it started to turn around, after Joss started to feel better. I rather enjoyed the family's dynamic without her. Such can be the fate of the eldest child, I suppose.

Maybe I'd give this 3.5 stars, and I'm rounding up because I love Rumer Godden. (I've b
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rumor Godden had a talent for being able to see the world through the eyes of somewhat odd, very intelligent children. In "The Greengage Summer," she accomplishes the task of presenting a family of such children against a backdrop of abandonment, a foreign land, awakening sexuality and criminal activity.
As I read this book, I was drawn back to my own childhood in the character of the narrator, the oldest child but one, who often has to be the responsible person in the face of flighty, immature
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.
John Mccullough
Jan 19, 2014 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
Brona's Books
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Greengage Summer was written in 1958.

My 2013 Pan Macmillan edition has a preface from Godden herself explaining that this story is 'partly true'.

When she was 15 (in 1922), her mother, in a fit of despair declared 'we are going to the Battlefields of France.'

What followed was an exquisite coming of age tale about discovery, deceit and international thieves! Godden evoked the long, hot, lazy summer of rural France to perfection. All those awkward young adult urges and desires are remembered in
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
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book as a teenager and was happy to find the audio version on the library shelf so that I could renew my acquaintance with this author and her work. I found I had forgotten the details of the story but had a sense of the atmosphere which comes through. The characters are well drawn and there is a fine sense of place. This might appear to be a story about children on holiday but there is a sense of menace that comes through and the end of the novel comes as a surprise.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Note to anyone else who might want to read this. DON'T read the author's introduction until you've read the book. It contains spoilers. Unfortunately, I did, so I pretty much knew what would happen at the end before I really started the book. That said, it was well written, with very evocative descriptions, and it was possible to lose yourself in the place and time.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't believe I haven't read this? (love this author) - saw this on the "recommended" shelf at the library. Finished - it was good and I liked it but didn't love it. It did drive me crazy that there was so much French that was not translated or explained by other dialog. And all the characters were introduced in such a flurry it took me almost the whole book to get them straight.
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is another book by Rumer Godden with children as the main characters. I didn't care for The River or Peacock Spring, and I didn't like this one either. Although this one was the best of the three.
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Margaret Rumer Godden was born in Sussex, 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
“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.” 5 likes
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