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The Flight of the Maidens av Jane Gardam
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The Flight of the Maidens (urspr publ 2000; utgåvan 2002)

av Jane Gardam (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3631169,690 (3.67)47
This delightful novel describes the post-war summer of 1946 - and follows the growing-up of three young women in the months between leaving school and taking up their scholarships at university.Una Vane, whose widowed mother runs a hairdressing salon in her front room ('Maison Vane Glory - Where Permanent Waves are Permanent'), goes bicycling with Ray, the boy who delivers the fish and milk. Hetty Fallowes struggles to become independent of her possessive, loving, tactless mother. And Lieselotte Klein, who had arrived in 1939 on a train from Hamburg, uncovers tragedy in the past and magic in the present.Rooted in the north of England, The Flight of the Maidens is peopled with extraordinary characters, who are evoked with all the humour, compassion and eye for detail that mark Jane Gardam as one of Britain's most gifted and original novelists.… (mer)
Medlem:LWyandt
Titel:The Flight of the Maidens
Författare:Jane Gardam (Författare)
Info:Plume (2002), Edition: Reprint, 278 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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The Flight of the Maidens av Jane Gardam (2000)

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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. ( )
  BookConcierge | Aug 31, 2019 |
I loved this, very charming but not twee, and with a lot of interesting characters. Three girls from a small town in the north of England prepare to go off to university, and have various interesting and odd adventures before starting. It's post war, and change is everywhere.
One thing I really liked was that all of their parents are quite damaged by having lived through the war, and they're characters in their own right, not just background figures. ( )
  piemouth | Mar 1, 2019 |
I hate to say this, especially given how much I loved [The Man in the Wooden Hat], but this one fell flat for me. I think Gardam has great strength when she focuses the story on one narrator. Juggling three narrators - and never giving one any greater presence over the others - takes a level of finesse and skill, just like a juggler of bowling pins. Gardam has a wonderful ability to get inside her characters and for setting the scene. For a coming of age story, there is a lot to appreciate in the challenges each girl faces. As much as I liked getting to know the girls and the post-WWII setting, I found myself stumbling every time the narration shifted. Really, I do like Gardam's writing style, and her stories provide for an interesting 'slice of life' perspective but this one will have to be chalked up as just an okay read for me. Maybe it was the audioread itself that I stumbled with... I don't know. My experience with this one won't deter me from reading more Gardam books. ( )
  lkernagh | Jun 16, 2016 |
I love this book Love it love it love it. Why hasn't Jane Gardam ever caught on in the US? She's decidedly a better novelist, to my taste, than her peers A.S.Byatt or Magraret Drabble or Penelope Lively. (Hilary Mantel swings more weight, I guess, but is less deft.)

Gardam was 72 when this was published! But it's a very youthful book. Incidentally, her date and place of birth, and education, sync with those of the chief protagonist.

Did I mention that I love this book?
  sonofcarc | Sep 18, 2014 |
Three girls come of age in the weeks after they emerge from school. All of them are poor, all have won scholarships to elite English colleges.

It is Yorkshire in 1946. The people in their local town like to be seen as generous and self-sacrificing, but tend to be petty and narrow, repressed and stunted, prone to selfishness and narcissism. There is the legacy of the puritan era, and laid over that, the first world has left a residue of widows, spinsters and mad males.

In the towns and cities of England buildings still lie in ruins. People are still digesting the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the reduction of Hamburg and Dresden to 'paste'. A new order had not yet begun, the postwar boom not suspected. Run-down aristocrats still cling to castle ruins, politics disturbs the thoughts of ordinary burghers over their morning papers, the Communist Party is still a serious option, the Pill not yet known. Threaded through all this is the silent calm of Quakerism: the puritan tradition at its gentlest, in its most dignified clothing, Quakers are presented as the force that did most to help Jews out of Germany in the 1930s.

Hetty is the daughter of an erudite man, mentally smashed in WW1, who lets his social connections lie fallow while he digs graves for a living. Quite another story is Hetty’s saintly, pretty, suffering, hyper-attentive, Anglo-Catholic mother. In a ghostly way she extends everywhere: into her own tight grey circle of female acquaintances, into the life of the local Vicar and even the life of Hetty’s boyfriend, the 'glass of cold water' Eustace; into the past, into the future, above all into Hetty’s heart and mind. To escape this attention Hetty has a few week’s holiday alone in the Lake District, where she is thrown in with farmers and daffy local aristocrats.

Liesolette is a refugee German Jew, sent out by her family in 1936. She was then raised by childless English Quakers. She has their calm silence on the outside, and another, appalling silence within. For a while before uni she moves to London, into the congested dwelling of another childless couple, German Jews like her, and she attracts a young Polish Jew as suitor; in their company the brittle silence inside her shatters at last. But complicating it all is the offer of an alternative future, from a rich great aunt, childless again, in California. Liesolotte visits and is pulled into an eerie suburban cocoon of wealth, between forest and sea.

The third girl Una lives, or rather scrapes by, with her matter-of-fact, streetwise mother. Cambridge beckons but meanwhile Una is busy exploring life with her boyfriend: shy, sensible, laconic and stern, a union man and communist. Una is a relief from the intensity of the other two (despite the earlier suicide of her father, another one done in by the Great War) and serves to tie the story together.

The plot’s coincidences and contrivances may irritate some readers but really just lighten the tone and do not, I think, get in the way of what the tale sets out to do. ( )
  Notesmusings | May 25, 2013 |
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for Lieselotte wherever she may be
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Three girls in a graveyard.
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This delightful novel describes the post-war summer of 1946 - and follows the growing-up of three young women in the months between leaving school and taking up their scholarships at university.Una Vane, whose widowed mother runs a hairdressing salon in her front room ('Maison Vane Glory - Where Permanent Waves are Permanent'), goes bicycling with Ray, the boy who delivers the fish and milk. Hetty Fallowes struggles to become independent of her possessive, loving, tactless mother. And Lieselotte Klein, who had arrived in 1939 on a train from Hamburg, uncovers tragedy in the past and magic in the present.Rooted in the north of England, The Flight of the Maidens is peopled with extraordinary characters, who are evoked with all the humour, compassion and eye for detail that mark Jane Gardam as one of Britain's most gifted and original novelists.

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