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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant-helped me to grow up...
An ugly duckling tale with a difference. I stumbled on it in the school library when I was 17. At the time I was sitting Oxbridge exams and living with my widower father, so the characterisation certainly struck a chord! Thanks to Jane Gardam for letting me know that there were other awkward, academic, adolescent girls like me out there.
Published on 1 May 2002

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather disappointing
I came to this after reading the Old Filth trilogy and A Long Way from Verona, and found it unengaging and lightweight by comparison. The themes and setting are very close to those of the Verona book, but the heroine is introverted and rather pedestrian, unlike the wonderful Jessica Vye. Some of the set piece scenes - you quickly get to know when these are on the horizon...
Published 8 months ago by Norman Housley


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant-helped me to grow up..., 1 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bilgewater (Hardcover)
An ugly duckling tale with a difference. I stumbled on it in the school library when I was 17. At the time I was sitting Oxbridge exams and living with my widower father, so the characterisation certainly struck a chord! Thanks to Jane Gardam for letting me know that there were other awkward, academic, adolescent girls like me out there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very accurate portrayal of a misfit teenager., 7 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
I loved this book when I was growing up because it was one of the very few books that seemed to reflect the way I thought. Marigold is an unfashionably "academic" teenager who doesn't quite fit in either with the girls at her own school or with the boys at the school where her father teaches. I love how she clams up when she tries to talk to the injured Jack, the object of her affections, and how when a friend gives her a makeover, the effect on her confidence doesn't last. Things come to a head during a weekend away when it turns out no-one is quite what they seem.
My only problem with this book was with the ending - I couldn't decide if it was meant to be real or fantasy, as it appears to show a much older Marigold meeting the grown-up daughter of two of the previously teenage characters, yet the main body of the book wasn't noticeably old-fashioned in setting. But the last 2 or 3 pages don't change the fact that the bulk of this book is one of the most true-to-life stories of adolescence I have ever read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than I remembered, 2 May 2008
By 
D. M. Purkiss "Diane" (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
Wow, this book is soooo great. It was always a favourite but I just reread it after a ten-year gap and it's still great - funny, and very truthful, and beautifully beautifully constructed and written. So much better, so much more subtle than the pap we hand to today's girls. So much better, in fact, that it seems to have bene consigned to adult lists - sigh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Both Hilarious and Touching, 12 Dec 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
A wonderful story of a truly original girl who can't ever quite fit in. Bilgewater (Marigold Green, known as Bill's Daughter/Bilgewater as she grows up in a boys' school where her father Bill teaches), believes that she is hideous and unsociable. Over the course of the novel, she gradually finds her place in the world, via working for Cambridge Entrance, making what turns out to be a disastrous friendship with beautiful rebel Grace Gathering, falling in love with three very different men, realizing what her closest friend, school matron Paula, really feels for her father, and taking charge of School House after an epidemic of measles. The writing is exquisite, the descriptions of the landscape (Gardam's native 'The North') excellent, the characters wonderfully believable and in many cases lovable. I particularly liked Bilgewater herself, the noble Paula ('Beware of self pity'), the dreamy Tom Terrapin, capable Boakes and the eccentric Edmund Hastings-Benson, English and Mathematics master, always unsuitably in love. And even the more unpleasant characters were interesting to read about. The humour in the book was also genuinely funny, and the plot held my attention all the way through - I was desperate to find out what would happen to Bilgewater in the end, and genuinely surprised (and pleased) with what I read in the Epilogue. An excellent read, whose moral should be that fitting in with the multitude is not always a good thing, and that misfits can sometimes end up the most successful and content of all. I've read this book about ten times and will certainly be re-reading it. One of Gardam's best.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, touching, and very perceptive novel, 13 Aug 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
This is the first book of Jane Gardam's that I've read and I was utterly captivated by it. Although it's many years since my adolescence, I think this captures perfectly the emotions and sensitivities of teenage girls, especially those who don't "fit in". I particularly enjoyed the section where she goes to stay at Jack's house and the scales fall from her eyes. It also has a good ending to a well-written and enjoyable story. I'll be looking out for more of her work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another good read from Jane Gardam, 11 Sep 2014
This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
Although I was unable to relate, on a personal level to the main character, I did feel an empathy towards her as a young girl. We all have had to grow up, face disappointments. The author is very astute at portraying the emotions of the not so confident. I did love Paula & Marigold's father - it was probably obvious what would happen with them, but nicely played.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly true to life !, 16 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
Re-reading this it is as fresh and funny and painful as ever ~ Jane Gardam is a quiet genius ! Joy Peach
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bilgewater, 9 Aug 2013
A lovely casual but intriguing read. I couldn't put it down! You just wanted to see how each character would develop and the storyline gave you the journey you wanted as a reader. Would thoroughly recommend to anyone but particularly teenage girls 5*!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Readable but not life changing (for me anyway!), 22 Jun 2013
By 
Mrs. Fiona Wilton - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bilgewater (Abacus Books) (Paperback)
Marigold Green - or Bill's daughter/Bilgewater, is an intelligent girl of 17/18 growing up as the daughter of a reclusive boarding school master. She is quirky and interesting yet also isolated and feels socially awkward.
This is a coming of age novel and follows Marigold through her self discovery and her exploration and experience of the 'outside world' that she had previously barely even noticed let alone engaged with.
The characters are nicely drawn, if slightly clichéd, but I could picture them well in my minds eye. The theme of coincidence is explicitly discussed in this novel which is important as there seem to be rather a lot of them!
If you would like to read more books set in the school environment then search on Amazon Listmania! for my list Books and Films Set in Schools, where you'll find other books such as Prep , Old School and a particular favourite of mine; The Secret History.
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5.0 out of 5 stars just wonderful, 15 Jun 2013
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What has Gardam written that isn't? She draws you in to her own slightly odd, slightly bitter, slightly hostile world and keeps you captive til the last page.
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Bilgewater (Abacus Books)
Bilgewater (Abacus Books) by Jane Gardam (Paperback - 1 Jan 1985)
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