"What happened to the cricket flannels?",
This review is from: Summer After The Funeral (Paperback)
I loved this book. Jane Gardam has gentleness at her core, shot through with intelligence and skill. This is a book about a family who have lived all their lives in the beautiful old Rectory that came with their father's job, as a Vicar. It opens upon the occasion of his death as the family gathers for the funeral. Because their house is a Rectory, the family finds they are about to be turfed out as the house belongs to the Church of England. Their mother makes various decisions about where each child should be safely housed so that she can find another dwelling for them. This will be difficult as they have very little money. But Mum writes to friends and farms the children out. Her letters are delightfully contingent and specific as to times and dates, but things seldome go as planned. Athene, nearly 17, and the eldest girl is in some doubt about who she is supposed be staying with, and has a passion for the writing of Emily Bronte, while Sebastian has told everyone he has a friend in a Buddhist monastery of some kind and he's off there for the duration. Beams, the younger girl (christened Phoebe) is farmed out to friends who are Doctors and here she plans to write her autobiography and avoid the hearty sailing activities her hosts have planned. Beams is almost the best thing in the book.
A variety of misfortunes means that Athene ends up with nowhere to stay, until a kind but somewhat predatory man takes pity on her and gives her a bed in an empty schoolhouse. By which time Athene has seen, but not spoken to the man she thinks is Heathcliffe to the life. He's not, however. The scene in the Bronte's house at Howarth is delightful.
The loveliness of the final chapter must be read to be believed. Gardam is such a good writer and she manages a veritable ludicrous ending with such finesse and aplomb that I wanted to applaud. Jane Gardam is a marvel of a writer, she is simply incomparable.