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Bilgewater (Abacus Books) Paperback – 1 Jan 1985

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (1 Jan. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349114021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114026
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 376,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Lively....excellent (The TIMES)

One of the funniest, most entertaining, most unusual stories about young love (EVENING STANDARD)

A striking story (TLS)

Book Description

*A classic novel of English adolescence

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most probably my favourite of Jane Gardam's books, 'Bilgewater' tells the story of Marigold Daisy Green, nicknamed 'Bilgewater' (a corruption of 'Bill's daughter') by the boys at the private school where her father is a housemaster, and where she grows up. Marigold is convinced she is ugly; she continually tells the reader she is unattractive with her orange hair and poor eyesight; she also, despite being extremely bright, finds it very difficult to learn to read. Her father, a widower, is affectionate but absent-minded, and her only real friend is the school matron, the rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed, indomitable (and wonderful) Paula, who helps Marigold with her reading and who tells her, when she is feeling sorry for herself :"Beware of self pity." As we follow Marigold through her teenage years, we read of her adoration of school monitor, Jack Rose; her strong dislike of, and later her attraction to, the unusual and complex Tom Terrapin; her friendship-of-sorts with the alluring and rebellious headmaster's daughter, Grace Gathering; her increasing awareness of the kind and studious vicar's son, Edward Boakes; and the whole host of characters she meets throughout her formative years, during which time she develops from the ugly duckling she thinks she is, to the unusually attractive eighteen-year-old she inevitably becomes, as she studies towards taking the Cambridge entrance exams.Read more ›
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