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A Long Way from Verona Paperback – November 5, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions; Reprint edition (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609451414
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609451417
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Brilliant.' SPECTATOR 'The flavour of this brilliantly witty and agonisingly true-to-life novel is impossible to convey. One even wants to quote endlessly.' TLS 'A book to be judged by the highest standards.' SPECTATOR 'A fiercely funny, eccentric and personal novel.' ECONOMIST --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jane Gardam is the only author to have twice been awarded Britain’s prestigious Costa (formerly Whitbread) Award for Best Novel. She was also a Booker prize finalist. Her novel The Man in the Wooden Hat was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize and Old Filth was a finalist for the Orange Prize and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in the south of England near the sea.

Customer Reviews

The thing is, Christian is coming from a very privileged background.
E. R. Bird
This part is so true, that I feel like I'm really learning about how it must have been like during the war in England.
Ruth
If you want to hang out with her and her friends for a while, this book is waiting for you to pick it up.
VictoriousDust

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 9, 2005
Format: Library Binding
It's one of those rare books that began as a children's tale and ended up considerably adult 30-some years down the line. This happens to a great many children's books over time. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland", and others all began with kids as the intended audience but later ended up in the hands of scholarly adults everywhere. Such is the fate of the remarkably well-written "A Long Way From Verona". A thoughtful book that considers what it is to be a writer, one girl's battle with the crippling depression of adolescence, and some mild magical realism for kicks, this is a mighty intelligent 190 pages. It's funny, insightful, and one of the few books that I will concede that adults will enjoy far more than children.

Jessica Vye cannot tell a lie. Or rather, she probably could but she would prefer not to. Growing up in the middle of World War II and attending an all girls local school, Jessica has been having some difficulty with certain members of the educational staff. She's occasionally abrasive but always amusing to listen to and has a far clearer eye than most of the adults around her. She is convinced that she can be a writer by an elderly author at the start of the book, and as such she dedicates herself to her own style. The rest of "A Long Way From Verona" follows suit, with Jessica doing exactly what she wants in the face of those with more power around her. By the book's end she has grappled with what it means to be happy in this world in spite of all its misery and has been ultimately redeemed in terms of her own writing.

By the time I finished reading this book, I found that I had been continually comparing it to 1972's mighty similar, "A Sound of Chariots", by Mollie Hunter.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2001
Format: Library Binding
I first read this book at the age of ten. After I returned it to the library, I forgot the title and had to spend hours scouring the bookshelves to find it again. It was worth it. Even now, at eighteen, I love it more than ever. This book should be read by everyone, but especially by children. The basic story is; a young girl who dreams of being a writer goes to a stuffy English private school where the teachers take every action possible to crush her ambitions. However, she prevails with irrepressible wit and humor. If you're passionate about life, literature, or anything at all, READ THIS BOOK!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ruth on July 18, 2000
Format: Library Binding
This is my favourite book of all time. I never get tired of reading it. It's about this thirteen year old girl in England during the second world war, and stuff that happens to her over a year or two. It's one of those books where the girl is narrating and perceiving one thing but you (with your superior wisdom and experience) can see more than she does. I think it's very real and subtle and a true statement of what it's like to be a teenage girl. This part is so true, that I feel like I'm really learning about how it must have been like during the war in England. So often I feel a disconnect when people write about this age group.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on May 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
A long way from Verona indeed. Jane Gardam's novel is set not in the Italian city but in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Verona is, in fact, never mentioned in the book, although there are a couple of references to "Romeo and Juliet", and an Italian prisoner-of-war plays a minor role. The story takes place in 1940/41, during the early days of the Second World War. The narrator and central character is Jessica Vye, the thirteen-year-old daughter of a local clergyman. There may be autobiographical elements in the book; Ms Gardam would have been thirteen in 1941, and the seaside town in which it is set is clearly based on her own home town of Redcar. Jessica herself has ambitions to become a writer.

There is no central, strongly-defined plot line; the book is episodic in structure, recounting the main occurrences in Jessica's life over a period of several months. Despite the historical period in which it is set, this is not so much a war story as a coming-of-age story with a wartime setting. Only in one, crucial, episode do the hostilities play a significant role. Jessica has become friendly with Christian Fanshawe-Smythe, the fifteen-year-old son of one of her father's clerical colleagues, and he suggests that they should together visit a neighbouring industrial town to see how its working-class inhabitants live. When they do, they are caught up in an air raid.

The theme of social class is an important one in the book. Although the fathers of both families are clergymen, there is a strong contrast between the wealthy Fanshaw-Smythes and the lower-middle-class Vyes, a contrast brought out when Jessica is invited to spend an uncomfortable weekend as a guest of the Fanshawe-Smythes, and is dismissed as "gharsley" (ghastly) by their daughters.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Anne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
As I begin writing this review, I know that it is about to be the only review that gives this book less than three stars so far. My husband just gave this book to me for Christmas, so I read it. I knew after a few pages that it was going to be difficult for me to read. We read books, according to Leland Ryken in Realms of Gold, because stories help us grapple with life and the realities of what we live through. Stories help us process and make sense of the world we live in.

This book discouraged me. I am the mother to three children, one of who will soon be entering her teen years. My own teen years were very painful, filled with much rejection and heartache. I hope that my own daughters will have more of an arsenal of confidence and love to help them weather the storms of their teen years better than I did. My husband said to me recently that most people look back on their teen years and laugh at the pain and awkwardness of them. I know many people are able to do this--hence movies like Napoleon Dynamite. But, my heart is wired very differently. Napoleon Dynamite was extremely painful for me to watch. Just as this book was very painful for me to read.

This story is about the year in which Jessica Vye was thirteen years old. It is a pessimistic and cynical view of life as a teenager. She is completely self-absorbed and insensitive to her family and adults in her life. She is disrespectful and disparaging of most people in her life. The adults are also depicted as idiots even when they're not. Her descriptions of her parents was particularly cringe-inducing for me (a mom to a soon to be teenage girl). My husband said most teenagers are like this. Yes, I know many are. But, not all. I know many that aren't. This book felt very hopeless to me.
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More About the Author

Jane Gardam has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature; has twice won a Whitbread Award and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She was awarded an OBE in January 2009.

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