Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild has worked as a maid at an English country house since she was sixteen. Read more...
Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild has worked as a maid at an English country house since she was sixteen. For almost all of those years she has been the clandestine lover to Paul Sheringham, young heir of a neighboring house. The two now meet on an unseasonably warm March day Mothering Sunday a day that will change 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 expands with every vividly captured moment. Her story is one of profound self-discovery, and through her, Graham Swift has created an emotionally soaring, deeply affecting work of fiction."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-02-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in 1924, in an England still reeling from the loss of young men to the Great War, this elegiac tale offers a haunting portrait of lives in a world in transition. Its events unfold from the viewpoint of Jane Fairchild, a 22-year-old maid at the Berkshire estate Beechwood. On the titular day—a Sunday before Easter that the aristocracy traditionally give their help off to visit their families—Jane bikes to neighboring Upleigh for a final fling with Paul Sheringham, her wealthy lover for the past five years, who is soon to marry into another blue blood family. No one can anticipate that the day will end abruptly with a devastating tragedy—and, for Jane, an epiphany that marks the start of a future as rich and rewarding as it is unforeseen. The story lingers on the immediate aftermath of Jane and Paul’s tryst and Swift (England and Other Stories) invests its every detail—the order in which Paul hastily dons formal attire to lunch with his fiancé and their families, the casualness with which Jane explores his estate home in the nude—with gravity and symbolic weight. His depiction of a fragile caste clinging to traditions that define their sense of noblesse oblige while struggling to bear the era’s crushing burden of “accumulated loss and grief” is poignant and moving—as is his intimation of a brilliant personal destiny that rises from the ashes of a tragically bygone social order. (Apr.)