From Publishers Weekly
Here is a great vacation read but it's definitely not a throwaway. Prolific English novelist Gardam, Whitbread Award winner for both The Hollow Land and Queen of the Tambourine, has crafted a story through which readers can step into 1946 England. The war is over and the world is profoundly changed, though some of the old trappings remain, reminders of a faded past. Three Yorkshire girls of considerable intelligence but modest means have earned scholarships to universities in Cambridge and London; the novel is set during the summer before their departure for university. Hetty Fallowes decides "to be ruthless and positive and in charge of [her] own soul." She rebels against her quirky parents, especially her pious mother, who married her intellectual, grave-digging father for love and now regrets it. Plucky Una Vane's mother is using her dead father's office (he was a doctor) as a beauty parlor; Una develops leftist leanings and embarks on a romance with Ray, a boy of questionable background. Lieselotte Klein is a Jewish-German refugee who came to the village as a child to live with a Quaker family. At 17, she is suddenly sent to stay with a strange, elderly Jewish couple in London and finally, briefly, with distant relatives in California. All characters, major and minor, are superbly developed and convincing. The portrait of postwar England as conventions crumble and the country is rebuilt is terrific, drawn by a writer whose attention to detail recreates, lovingly and with bright flashes of wit, another time and place. (July)Forecast: Strong reviews and favorable word-of-mouth will be crucial to help build an American readership for this fine import.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
It is the summer of 1946 in Yorkshire, England. Food and clothing are still being rationed, and everyone is struggling to cope with the changes brought about by World War II. To the delight of the town, three local girls, best friends from secondary school, have won prestigious scholarships to universities in London and Cambridge. But before they depart, they must survive the summer. While Hetty struggles to escape from her battle-scarred father and possessive mother by reading books, Una haltingly asserts her emerging womanhood with a young man from the wrong side of the tracks and of a decidedly leftist political bent. Meanwhile, Liselotte, a Jewish refugee living with a Quaker family since her arrival in 1939 via the Kindertransport, is whisked off to California to meet her last surviving relative. Gardam, two-time winner of the Whitbread Award for The Hollow Land and Queen of the Tambourine, has written a charming and sensitive story of friendship and emotional maturation in a direct, polished style not without humor and irony. Fans of Maeve Binchy as well as the fine British writers of the 1940s and 1950s will find her prose and characters engaging. Recommended. Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.