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The Flight of the Maidens
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August 2019: 21st Century > TRIM TBR - The Flight of the Maidens / Jane Gardam - 4****

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6012 comments CROSS-Posted to Trim the TBR thread

The Flight of the Maidens by Jane Gardam
The Flight of the Maidens – Jane Gardam

From the book jacket: It is the summer of 1946. A time of clothing coupons and food rations, of postwar deprivations and social readjustment. In this precarious new era, three young women prepare themselves to head off to university and explore the world beyond Yorkshire, England.

My reactions:
I’ve read three of Gadam’s novels before this one, and I rated them all 4****. I made a note to myself immediately on finishing this one with my 4-star rating, but now, a week later, as I sit to write my review I think I may have been over-enthusiastic. I’ll leave my rating at 4 since that was my initial reaction, but perhaps it should really be 3.5***.

What I love about Gardam’s writing is the way she paints her characters and shows us who they are. Hetty (Hester or “Hes-tah”) Fallowes is somewhat bookish and saddled with an overbearing mother. She sympathizes with but doesn’t really understand her father, who suffers from the traumas he witnessed in the trenches during WWI (what we would today recognize as PTSD). Her best friend (since age five) is Una Vane. She had a somewhat privileged upbringing, until her doctor father walked out one morning, and his body was discovered days later at the base of a cliff. He, too, had suffered from his experiences in WW1. The third girl is a recent member of their tight circle of friendship.

Leiselotte Klein, is a Jewish refugee who was taken in by a Quaker family. While Hetty and Una are thin, even skinny, Leiselotte is chubby. She slouches and is always knitting. She knows nothing of what has happened to her family, and while the Quaker couple who have taken her in have provided all they can for her, they have not been warm and loving. Her “foreignness” in this small Yorkshire community sets her apart and she’s remained rather solitary. At least until the three are joined together by the news of their scholarships.

The book opens with the three girls “picnicking” and talking about their recent acceptance at university. All will be setting off for London: Hetty to London to read Literature; Una to Cambridge to study physics; and Leiselotte to Cambridge where she’ll study Modern Languages. But before they go, they’ll have the summer months to grow up a bit.

Gardam changes point of view from chapter to chapter to give each girl a chance in the spotlight. Hetty heads for the Lake District on her own, an attempt to get away from her mother and try to get a head start on the basic reading she is certain her fellow university students have already studied. Una takes a bicycle trip around the countryside in the company of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Leiselotte’s journey is the most wide-ranging and full of surprises. I’m not sure I ever really got to know her in this novel and felt that her story was somewhat tacked onto that of the other girls.

LINK to my review

message 2: by Joanne (last edited Sep 01, 2019 07:10AM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7875 comments I have wondered about this author for a while-I added Old Filth to my shelf about a year ago-have you read that one? Is it a good one to start with for this author?

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6012 comments Joanne wrote: "I have wondered about this author for a while-I added Old Filth to my shelf about a year ago-have you read that one? Is it a good one to start with for this author?"

Yes ... I also rated it 4 stars.

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