Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

A Romance

Book - 2016
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Sharing what she believes will be a last tryst with a longtime secret lover on the eve of his marriage, a woman reflects on the years they have spent together and her journey of self-discovery against a backdrop of 20th-century history.
"Jane Fairchild, orphaned at birth, has worked as a maid at an English country estate since she was sixteen. And for almost all of those years, she has been the secret lover of Paul Sheringham, the scion of the estate next door. On an unseasonably warm March afternoon, when all the servants have been let off work for the day in order to pay their annual visits to their families, Jane and Paul will make love for the last time in Paul's own bedroom--though not, as Jane believes, because Paul is about to be married. 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 and 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."--From publisher.
Publisher: Toronto :, Random House Canada,, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780345816603
Characteristics: 177 pages ; 20 cm

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r
readerwriter_0
Nov 01, 2018

I read this a second time to pick up on the subtle ways the author hints at the future events. I was intrigued by how small words dropped in just the right places set the tone for this book. Incredibly well-crafted - read once for the story line and the second time to stop and notice the writing itself and how it pulls the reader in while it slowly reveals the story bit by bit.

b
baldma
Sep 12, 2018

This is our October 18 Book Club selection. It is a billed as a romance but from my perspective describes an ongoing sexual/physical relationship between a a lower class house maid and an aristocrat. It illuminates the relationship between classes as it was in 1924 . I did enjoy the description of Jane becoming a writer and her perspective on writing and the writing life from the age of 90.

s
sgcf
Sep 06, 2018

This novella takes place in the course of a single pivotal day of lush loving as well as heartbreak, with backward looking exposition and omniscient narration projected into the future. To me, it feels like a short story Swift has padded with much repetition and halting, phrase-strewn sentence structure. (In my head I hear the narrator’s voice as actor Bill Nighy.) However, this repetition is similar to what certain memories do – they play over and over in the mind like a mesmerizing dream. Like a poet playing with words …which is what Jane does so successfully, breaking out of the class she was born into to become a well known writer.

c
cokie28
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.

s
sandyc99
Apr 01, 2017

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

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW 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.

l
laphampeak
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.

u
uncommonreader
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.

j
jr3083
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.

c
Candaceb108
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.

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