Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

A Romance

Book - 2016
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"From the Booker Award winner: a luminous, profoundly moving work of fiction that begins with an afternoon tryst in 1924 between a servant girl and the young man of the neighboring house, but then opens to reveal the whole life of a remarkable woman. Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild, orphaned at birth, has worked as a maid at one English country estate since she was sixteen. And for almost all of those years she has been the secret lover to Paul Sheringham, the scion of the estate next door. On an unseasonably warm March afternoon, Jane and Paul will make love for the last time--though not, as Jane believes, because Paul is about to be married--and the events of the day will alter Jane's life forever. As the narrative moves back and forth from 1924 to the end of the century, what we know and understand about Jane--about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees, remembers--deepens with every beautifully wrought moment. Her story is one of profound self-discovery and through her, Graham Swift has created an emotionally soaring and deeply affecting work of fiction"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2016
Edition: First United States edition
ISBN: 9781101947524
Characteristics: 177 pages ; 20 cm


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Dec 30, 2017

This is a quick read and a delightful book. It is a thoughtful accompaniment to the Pat Barker trilogy on World War I, revealing some of the aftereffects of that war on English culture.

Apr 01, 2017

Slow to get started, but took on a lovely hue as the character developed depth and nuance.

Dec 18, 2016

I stumbled across this by way of NPR's book concierge, and I'm so glad I did. This is an extremely short book -- almost more of a novella than a proper novel -- and yet it packs quite a punch. It's the story of a single day in one maid's life in 1924, and also the story of her entire life and all that spread out as a result of the events of that day. It's quiet, thoughtful, beautifully written, and I was left thinking about it long after I'd read the last page.

Dec 13, 2016

The story is written at the pace of a slow embrace. A close and silent, soul embracing relationship is the profound experience from which the writer bases the narrative. The main character, Jane Fairchild, tells her story from various points of age reminding us of the interpretations and questions from which we base our own truth. The end leaves the reader with a satisfactory sigh.

Oct 12, 2016

A novella about a woman whose life spanned the twentieth century. She recalls a day in 1924 and its impact on the rest of her life, from maid to writer. It is interesting that she is reading Conrad on this momentous day and that the novella itself could be described as Conradian.

Sep 22, 2016

This small novella by Graham Swift is an exemplar of the genre, written by a master. Swift takes a small image and spins it into something tight and intricate, but with threads that could lead into something larger. In this case, the image is a woman lying naked among the tangled sheets in a sun-filled room in an empty house.

Her lover Paul has just stood up from the bed, and he looks back at her as he dresses. It is 1924, Mothering Sunday. In the drab and aching days after WWI, Paul is the only remaining son of the Sheringham family, with his two older brothers killed in the war. Jane is an orphan, a housemaid in a neighbouring house. Their relationship is an illicit secret, impossible to bring into the open.

For those few gentry families still clinging to a vanishing world of big houses and servants, Mothering Sunday is always an inconvenience. Their hired help are given the whole day off to visit their own mothers, leaving their employers to make their own arrangements. But, as an orphan, Jane has no mother to visit and so she has the whole day to herself- or so she thought. Paul has other ideas.

This book is only 132 pages in length, and it is just right. The language is explicit and fruity, but the narrative voice wistful and melancholy. Swift foreshadows the ending right from the start, and the tension in moving towards that ending is so painful that I wouldn’t have wanted it to go for another page longer. It was so beautifully written, however, than I wouldn’t wish for a single page less, either.

Sep 18, 2016

Hmmm, this book is like the first three chapters of an early 19th century novel. Not too much action, but lots of thoughts about it. Light, easy to read, not too many calories, lemon meringue made with Sweet & Lo.

Aug 25, 2016

One Sunday.
One tryst.
One tragedy.
One aged writer's flashback.
One odd, quintessential British romance.
Not sure I've read anything quite like this.

Jul 28, 2016

Could not put this one down. Luckily it isn't very long, but it is mesmerizing: a young maid in 1924, her affair with a son of a local landowning family, the hierarchy of families in Britain at the time, and how her life took a tail-spin out of the ordinary after one incident. Great book.

Jul 04, 2016

On Mothering Sunday in 1924—a March day that seems like June—Jane Fairchild gets a phone call. The rest of her day fills this short volume.

Graham Swift’s writing is luminous and his storytelling so wonderful! A must read.


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