Thursday, 26 November 2009

Jane Gardam

One of the things about blogging and having spent far more time reading in 2009 than ever before, is that I have been able to pursue authors. I have found new authors who I like, such as Hilary Mantel , Anita Brookner, and Margaret Drabble and have gained a lot of pleasure from reading as many of their works as possible. Another author who I have encountered and liked enough to do this for is Jane Gardam.

I thought it was time to flag her up after enjoying A long way from Verona last week. Many of her books are written for a crossover/teenage audience, and this fitted into that category. Two other teenage novels are Bilgewater (a story about a girl growing up in a school where her father is housemaster) and The summer after the funeral (about a girl sent off to relations the summer after her father has died). A long way from Verona is a wonderful story about Jessica, an 11 year old girl who aspires to be a writer. It's set during the Second World War, but the war is very much in the background - deprivations are mentioned (both food and clothes)

I have not yet read many of her adult novels, with the exception of The flight of the maidens which is the story of 3 schoolgirls, set in Yorkshire, as they hit adulthood (I guess that one of the reasons I like her work so much is that she does write a very good coming of age story). Jane Gardam is probably most famous for her novel Old filth which was shortlisted for the Orange prize a few years ago. I wasn't sure that I would enjoy this, but picked it up last weekend after drafting this post and LOVED it - I am now desperate to read her latest, The man with the wooden hat which tells the same story from the protagonist's wife's point of view. I also own copies of her novels Faith Fox, God on the rocks (which was her first adult novel), and The Queen of the tambourine. I am definitely looking forward to working my way through these.

She's also written a number of short story collections, including The people of Privilege Hill.

There is an interesting feature written by the Guardian in 2005 about her here.

Have you read anything by Gardam, and if so which are your favourites?


  1. I loved The Man in the Wooden Hat! (The People on Privilege Hill includes an Old Filth story, and is an interesting collection).

  2. The only one I've read is A Long Way From Verona, which I picked up on a whim this summer. I enjoyed it a lot, and have been meaning to try another. Perhaps I'll give Old Filth a try next as you loved it so much!

  3. I've heard so much about Gardam lately. An e-friend is sending me The Man with the Wooden Hat cos' she enjoyed it so much. After your review, I'm more excited than ever to try her.

  4. Cornflower - it is currently winging its way to me on a library request!

    Sophie - you would definitely enjoy Bilgewater if you enjoyed that one. I can lend you that or Old Filth if you like (OF is v tatty charity shop pbkthough!)

    Mrs B - I wonder if you should read Old Filth first. Actually, you should read The man, and then Old Filth and let me know if it works that way round too!

  5. Jane Gardam is not an author that I'm familiar with but now that you've mentioned her I'm sure I'll see her books popping up everywhere!

  6. That's always the way Darlene!


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