Tuesday, 25 January 2011

THE GREENGAGE SUMMER


'The Greengage Summer' by Rumer Godden is one of my all-time favourites; a beautiful and perceptive coming-of-age classic that I have read and re-read. Perfect summer reading.

'You need to learn...what I cannot teach you' said Mother. And so, she and her brood of five children travel to rural France so the children can see firsthand the graves and sacrifice men and women made in the battlefields of World War One.

And in a way the children do learn, too, as they spend the summer in southern France.

But the lessons are not what they expected.

To begin with, the children's mother becomes ill and the children are largely left to their own devices when they reach France. Around them are an assortment of adults who are unlikely parenting substitutes.

Days turn into weeks and a mystery unfolds in which the children become unwitting participants.

Rural France is stunningly portrayed. The descriptions of the summer, the orchards, the river, the minutiae of hotel life will have you almost living and breathing a piece of France.

-Ann

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