978-0-349-11424-8 / 9780349114248

The Flight Of The Maidens





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About the book:

Jane Gardam has captured the burgeoning renaissance of post-war Britain in her novel The Flight of the Maidens. Writing with her usual deft and sensitive touch, she follows the lives and loves of three girls, Hetty, Una and Lieselotte, who are in transition from home to university in the Yorkshire of 1946. All three have suffered some fallout from war but have achieved academic success and have been offered university scholarships. Before they begin their studies, however, they have additional emotional lessons to learn.

Gardam explores the life and development of each character in turn, and projects the reader into a vivid post-war reality. Hetty loves her battle-scarred father--now the local gravedigger--who haunts the locale, but she yearns to escape the clutches of her possessive mother and finds temporary solace with an intelligent but dull lance corporal. Una goes cycling with Ray, the boy who used to deliver fish, as she forms her first relationship with a male after the suicide of her father--someone who was also a victim of an affliction called "war". Silent Lieselotte, a Jew from Hamburg who was on the last refugee train out, visits York, London and America as she searches for her family and roots, encountering a myriad of memorable experiences (the images of a bombed London are particularly startling and evocative).

Gardam paints scenes like a watercolour and every stroke adds depth and subtlety. The characters are rounded and appealing and humour often bubbles beneath the surface:

"...At that Yalta business, they were all wearing aprons"
"Well, travel rugs, even that Stalin, whom I cannot like, I'm afraid, whatever they say about him being a Colostomy."
Most of all, Jane Gardam has rendered a convincing and touching insight into the lives of people, still dealing with universal concerns, who are bravely forging a future in an uncertain reality. --Christina McLoughlin

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