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Mothering Sunday: A Romance (Vintage International) Paperback – January 10, 2017
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“Haunting.” —The New York Times
“Exquisite. . . Mothering Sunday shows love, lust, and ordinary decency struggling against the bars of an unjust English caste system.” —Kazuo Ishiguro, The Guardian
“A book you’ll want to read more than once—and then urge on your friends.” —NPR
“An exquisite, emotionally resonant romance.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A fairy tale of sexual and intellectual awakening.” —The New Yorker
About the Author
Graham Swift was born in 1949 and is the author of ten novels; two collections of short stories; and Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. With Waterland he won The Guardian Fiction Award, and with Last Orders the Booker Prize. Both novels have since been made into films. His work has appeared in more than thirty
Top customer reviews
Jane is an orphan in her early twenties in 1924. Her story alternates between then and the present, now a woman in her nineties and a celebrated writer at the close of the twentieth century, looking back at the events that marked a turning point in her life. She had been having a seven-year affair with wealthy neighbor Paul Sheringham, whose brothers died in WW I, and who is to be married in two weeks time to the affluent Emma Hobday. As we open the story, Jane has spent part of Mothering Sunday having a tryst with Paul in his bedroom at the mansion, her only time meeting him there, rather than their usual more sordid locations. It’s like being Cinderella for the first time, without the virginity.
“There never was a day like this, nor ever would or could be again.” Jane intuits that, with Paul’s upcoming nuptials, that this will be their last time together. Everything is slow and languid for them—the sex, the post-coital smoking in bed--even his eventual departure is unhurried. After he leaves, Jane explores the entire house, naked, lazily, with fascinated interest, which opens up more fairytale allusion. “Can you look into a mirror and see someone else? Can you step through a mirror and be someone else?”
Through Jane’s eyes, the author embraces the power of storytelling—the stories we tell, the stories we own, and those that are passed on through legacy. As she nakedly, leisurely explores the Sheringham’s library, the reader gets glimpses of Jane’s first love of the narrative. She may only have a rudimentary education at this point, but her mind is already reaching far into fantasy, fable, and adventure, into the mind of a reader and writer. Jane is a discreet woman, who matured at silences during her affair with Paul. Now, as a modern writer, she masters the art of holding back when interviewed, understanding that the absence of words can be as powerful as the telling of them. "But she would never disclose that when she really became a writer, or had the seed of it truly planted in her...was one very warm day in March, when she was twenty-two and she had wandered round a house without a shred on--naked, you might say, as on the day she was born--and had felt both more herself, more Jane Fairchild, than she'd ever felt before..."
Jane breathes in the life she was given, but writes in the lives she dreams. Some would be penned, others would be prospects, and the rest she may never know. “All the scenes. All the scenes that never occur, but wait in the wings of possibility.”
The story is almost secondary to the language, but it is still a gripping tale; more of a novella than a full novel, but a delicious one at that.