Manual A Long Way From Verona

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Dec 6th, by mary. English is what matters. This week I read A Long Way from Verona , newly released by Europa Editions, having previously read and loved seven other Jane Gardam novels, and I was puzzled as I read this one because it seemed unusual, and while not out of character, a lot less sophisticated in terms of structure than her usual. Like many other debut novels, it is often sparkling and insightful, and though it may not completely satisfy every reader, especially those who are fans of her later, more mature and successful novels, it becomes especially significant when one recognizes just how much of the realistic adolescent angst of this novel must be autobiographical.

Jessica Vye, the richly described main character, tells her own story, filled with the confusions of a thirteen-year-old who is trying to figure out who she is.

Gardam's writing is so honest and her characters are so true-to-life, but there's always a layer of surrealism that gets mixed in somehow. She ties things up, but leaves just a few threads hanging to give you something to wonder about. Jan 21, Marcus Ward rated it really liked it.

A Long Way from Verona

Detailed and curious, this book is really more amazing than four stars. How I got sucked into reading about a 12 year old girl during the war in England would normally be a mystery but the character and writing are so compelling it just happened and now I'm sad the book is over. Jul 27, Loes Dissel rated it it was amazing. Jane Gardam's first novel, published in Charming, warm and witty. Doch sie ist anders als die meisten ihrer gleichaltrigen Schulkameradinnen.

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Eine ungemein sympathische 'Heldin' - unerschrocken und neugierig, die selbst in den brenzligsten Situationen wie beispielsweise einem Bombenangriff nicht den Kopf verliert. Mar 16, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Every single time I begin a novel by Jane Gardam, I find myself saying the same thing to myself; "This is exactly the sort of book I like.

I suppose Gardam will fail me someday, perhaps. I did read other Goodread reviews before beginning mine. I don't often do that. Here are two things I found by doing so. The novel was written for children!

The oblique narrative Every single time I begin a novel by Jane Gardam, I find myself saying the same thing to myself; "This is exactly the sort of book I like. The oblique narrative makes me think that children in must have been much more attune to subtlety than the ones I currently teach. I was a child in ' The other thing I noticed is many, maybe most of the reviews were by men, and they loved this book. What is it about this 12 year old siren that is luring in these gentleman.

She is not even nice most of the time. She is a bit conceited. She is rather judgmental. It is her faults that make her so delightful, and ultimately lead her to something like wisdom and maturity. Jessica begins her narrative in the offhand manner of David Copperfield or of Cassandra Mortmain sitting in the kitchen sink. Speaking directly to the reader, Jessica reveals, "I ought to tell you from the beginning that I am not quite normal.

Thus,6 begins her vocation. She does without a doubt have a writerly temperament. Always noticing, reacting, framing scenes as she navigates early adolescence and its many woes. She doesn't manage this with anything akin to grace.

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In fact she is a mess. She gets on teachers' nerves, and on classmates nerves. And on her own. Nights and days are filled with the threat of air raid. The petrol, shipping and steel industry on this bit of the North Sea was especially prone to raids. Her father had late in the day decided to leave teaching to become a curate. The writerly Jessica notes and vividly describes the stodgy, dull seaside towns, her provincial girl's school and the chaotic life in her family's cramped terrace home.

When she turns her Dickensian eye on the oddments of humans beings that surround her What she is, is funny and utterly charming. Jul 27, Deb Readerbuzz Nance rated it it was amazing Shelves: And you simply must read it, too. I just came across it by the unlikeliest of chances. Oh, you really must read it. Hope you can find a copy. And remember to thank me when you finally give it a read. Dec 28, Kathleen rated it really liked it Shelves: While her audience was intended to be middle school readers, the novel can certainly be appreciated by adults.

Jessica Vye, the central character, is a thirteen year old aspiring wrier in a small, coastal English town during World War II. English is what matters. Arnold Hanger as he boards a train, imploring him to read and respond. What sets her apart from her peers, however, is where the validation received from Mr. The world through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl living on the north coast of England during WWII.

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  • A LONG WAY FROM VERONA by Jane Gardam | Kirkus Reviews;

It's a sweet story, often very funny, and full of eccentricities which is what I love about Jane Gardam. It took me a while to figure out the title but that's part of the experience. I don't think this is a children's or a young adult's novel re other reviewers. I think it was written for adults to remind them of the torture of being in your early teens.

Or is that just me?

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  6. Ich finde es belanglos und auch die Figur "Jessica" eher anstrengend als witzig. Gardams "Old Filth" hat mir viel besser gefallen. Apr 29, Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it Shelves: A Writer Beyond All Possible Doubt I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine. I will make this clear at once because I have noticed that if things seep out slowly through a book the reader is apt to feel let down or tricked in some way when he eventually gets the point.

    What a marvelous opening! Jessica Vye is only twelve or thirteen while she is writing, but it is clear that she has read enough books to have formed firm ide A Writer Beyond All Possible Doubt I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine. Jessica Vye is only twelve or thirteen while she is writing, but it is clear that she has read enough books to have formed firm ideas about how to construct one.

    This, Jane Gardam's first novel published in , is pretty clearly a fictionalized memoir about growing up as a writer. She hardly needs the confirmation of a visiting author giving a talk at her school, who sends back the pages she has pressed upon him with the note: It takes them ages to get on and do anything. There is a lot of Danish blood on this part of the coast my father says, and the Danes tend to stand about rather.

    After all, look at Hamlet. Jessica grows up as a curate's daughter in a seedy seaside resort on the Yorkshire coast during the Second World War—a background that speaks especially to me since, though a decade younger, I also grew up in a similar household in a similar northern resort in the same war. Her father is a late recruit to the clergy, but already established as a left-wing writer; one of the pleasures of the novel is watching Jessica slowly discover how respected her father is. She commutes by train to the local school, for girls only, where she feels she is disliked by most of the pupils and suspected by many of the teachers of getting above herself.

    But a lot of this is her own insecurity and her budding writer's feeling that she knows what everyone is thinking, whether they actually are or not. And we do feel for her; one scene where she arrives at a sleepover party having brought the wrong clothes is excruciatingly familiar. Yet there are a few exceptions, sensible adults who really understand her; when we meet them, they warm the heart. Looking Gardam up on Wikipedia, I was amazed to see that this first novel was published as a children's book, and indeed won a children's literature prize.


    It does explain why, in the adult sense, so little actually happens—an encounter with an escaped prisoner, a surprise bombing raid, an unexpected success—yet all are big events for children. So would it appeal to young people today? It is set so specifically in its vanished place and time, with the effortless eye for detail that sees no need to contextualize it for later audiences; Gardam writes for people who would simply have recognized that this is how it was. But such readers are grown up now; their childhood world seems as distant as Alice or Peter Pan. Yet, as with those classics, you can still go back in the imagination.

    Gardam's feel for the texture of childhood life is pitch-perfect, and this debut novel is a little miracle. Jul 22, Rachelle Urist rated it really liked it. The young protagonist, a born writer, as she is told by a published novelist who reads her work, is a feisty, fascinating, and compelling figure who falls in and quickly out of love with a boy about her age.

    The book is rife with news about what it was like to live in wartime England, when Nazis bombarded London and children were evacuated to the country. That parental stance is probably universal. Jane Gardam is mostly unknown in the USA. Just recently she was profiled in the New Yorker. May 04, Juliet rated it really liked it.

    By now, she is all of 12, still impetuous. Her father has changed careers, from schoolmaster to clergyman; the family has moved to the blustery North East, and England is at war with Germany. Gas masks are mandatory; so is food rationing. Idiotic school rules get her in trouble, but Jess goes on her merry way until she encounters a madman and potential molester in the municipal gardens.

    A Long Way from Verona | Jane Gardam

    She suppresses the memory until it surfaces later in a poem she writes; it will win a nationwide competition. In class-conscious England, the Vyes inhabit a gray area between posh and common. Jess, not previously interested in the opposite sex, swoons over a marvelously mature boy Christian is 14, looks much older who talks of revolution and insists on meeting her father, who, it turns out, is a famous lefty. Then, another narrow escape for Jess: