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The Greengage Summer Paperback – 28 Feb 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New edition edition (28 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447211014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447211013
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"'An exciting tale, this novel has both charm and atmosphere, and Miss Godden recaptures with an easy unsentimental naturalness the unfocused vision of adolescence' Evening Standard; 'One of the finest English novelists' Orville Prescott" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Rumer Godden was one of Britain's most distinguished authors, with many justly famous and much-loved books for both adults and children to her credit, including The River, Black Narcissus, The Peacock Spring and Coromandel Sea Change. She was awarded the OBE in 1993 and died in 1998, aged ninety.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Booksthatmatter on 4 July 2005
Format: Paperback
When the dog bites, when you're feeling blue, simply get a copy of The Greengage Summer to gorge on its luscious and heady prose. Godden is a timeless writer and I'm fairly sure this started life as 'adult' rather than 'children's' fiction - for all the worth of those meaningless categories. I guess the teen reads didn't exist then and this seething, hormonal coming-of-age novel captures the very essence of that moment when knowing youth casts its spell without being able to foresee the consequences, for it to appeal to younger readers, but I wonder if the hindsight of growing-up add another layer or three. The prose is limpid, laden with resonance and the characters are wondeful. I can smell and see the summer and its dangerous allure. Nicely tragic too (in that noone actually dies, but the consequences of playing with adult-hood are suitably dire!). It is a book I turn to time-and-again and recommend unstintingly to anyone who'll hear me out.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By booksetc on 31 July 2010
Format: Paperback
This must have been stunning when it was published in 1958, when few people had travelled, brilliantly evoking the foreignness of a French summer, the heat, the smells, the taste of food and wine experienced for the first time. Incredibly, it is based on Rumer Godden's own experience. In the early 1920s, when she was about 15 (although the novel is set post WW2) her mother - like the mother in the story - took her large brood of children on a character-building holiday to see the battlefields of an earlier world war; and en route was likewise bitten by a horsefly, becoming dangerously ill. The family stayed for weeks in the hotel that inspired Hotel des Oeillets, where the eldest girl became aware of her grown-up power over men, and amongst the guests was the Englishman who became Eliot in the novel.
What wonderful raw material for a writer; this novel must almost have written itself - maybe that's why it feels so alive, so completely convincing.
What I like most about it is that Rumer Godden has managed to avoid that self-conscious, knowing 'charm' that has turned me off so many other precocious families in English fiction (the Mortmains in I Capture the Castle, Nancy Mitford's young Radletts, and worst of all, that ghastly bunch of fey eccentrics in The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson.)
A charming book, that doesn't make you heave with indigestion/saccharine overload when read as an adult.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By L O'connor on 10 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
The Grey children are taken to France by their mother to visit the battlefields of WW1, in the hope that it will make them less selfish. However, Mry Grey is taken ill on the journey and they arrive at the hotel Les Oeilletes,bewildered and frightened, with their mother barely conscious. They are befriended by Eliot, a charming and enigmatic Englishman staying at the hotel, who sorts everything out for them. With their mother in hospital, the children have freedom to explore and to get to know the people at the hotel, the proprietor, Mamzele Zizzi, a beautiful but slightly haggard woman who is clearly besotted with Eliot, the grim, forbidding Madame Corbet, who loathes him, and the rest of the staff. They make friends with Paul, a wretched overworked orphan who slaves in the kitchens, but dreams of one day owning a lorry. The story is narrated by Cecil, thirteen years old, who observes everything, especially the growing attraction between Joss, her exquisitely lovely elder sister, and Eliot. But who is Eliot exactly, and what is he up to? The children soak up the strangeness of France, stuff themselves with the greengages in the orchard, and watch passion smoulder as Eliot and Joss grow more wrapped up in each other, and Mamzelle Zizi simmers with jealous rage. Places and people are described so vivivdly you can see them, you can taste the greengages and smell the chocolate in the pattisserie. You can feel the children's wonder, transported from their dull English suburbia to this enchanting and dangerous world. The story begins to take on a darker, grimmer tone as the idyll with Eliot ends abruptly when Mamzelle Zizzi explodes with jealous fury. The children attempt to retreat from the scary grownup world to their private childhood realm, but it seems it is too late. and Eliot's behaviour becomes even more mysterious. This thrilling, poignant, enchanting story is based on real experiences in Rumer Godden's own youth, it is an unforgettable book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lucinda Stern on 26 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I love France and I love coming of age sort of stories, so when I heard a program. about this on Radio 4 (as a lost classic) I had to read it.

The book is semi autobiographical and follows five children, beautiful Joss, the narrator, Cecil (a girl), in the middle Hester and 'the littles' Willmouse and Vicky.

The childrens' mother takes them to France for the summer, with the idea of showing them the battle fields to give them a sense o their own selfishness, unfortunately she falls ill, and the children are left in a hotel, in the care of house-keepers and the fascinating Mr Elliot. What follows in partly a coming of age, partly and achingly nostalgic account of summer in France, and part a gripping little mystery.

The children come across as individuals, Willmouse who wants to design clothes, Vicky who as the youngest carries around a potato pig, planning to eat it when it shrivels up; Hester with her camera and Joss who is almost an adult and flits between the adult and child's world.

Godden writes with a characteristic tone, part longing, part conversational, and part humorous which is a pleasure to read. Its a slim little book, and would make a lovely holiday read. Its also one to keep to re-read.
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