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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A formidably intelligent, gentle, comic genius ... In a hundred years she will be read as Mrs Gaskell is read (A. N. Wilson SPECTATOR
Gardam ... has written another jewel. This tale of the three young women is made with a concentrate of humour and compassion. Gardam is a brilliantly subtle comedian who can keep the reader enraptured until the last page (THE TIMES
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... 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. (Christina McLoughlin, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW
Gardam has a pleasant, accessible style well-suited to a reassuring tale of regeneration and optimism after adversity. (OBSERVER
As a celebration of the rites of passage it rings diamond true. It is light, witty, sharp, yet understanding and sympathetic. It is also thoroughly enjoyable (SCOTSMAN
Gardam blends memory and imagination, intellect and humour, to evoke unsentimentally a vanished England, setting it in the context of the wider world and capturing the bittersweet excitement of leaving childhood behind (DAILY TELEGRAPH
Jane Gardam, as ever, shapes her narrative with wit and aplomb ... intelligent, inspiriting and entertaining (INDEPENDENT