A Long Way from Verona

A Long Way from Verona

by Jane Gardam
     
 

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‘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's 'violent experience' colors her schooldays and her reaction to the world around her- a confining world of Order Marks, wartime restrictions, viyella dresses, nicely-restrained essays and dusty tea shops. For Jessica she has been

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Overview

‘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's 'violent experience' colors her schooldays and her reaction to the world around her- a confining world of Order Marks, wartime restrictions, viyella dresses, nicely-restrained essays and dusty tea shops. For Jessica she has been told that she is 'beyond all possible doubt', a born writer. With her inability to conform, her absolute compulsion to tell the truth and her dedication to accurately noting her experiences, she knows this anyway. But what she doesn't know is that the experiences that sustain and enrich her burgeoning talent will one day lead to a new- and entirely unexpected- reality.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-17
This venerable British author is best known in the U.S. for her Old Filth trilogy, completed this year. Now, here's an opportunity to read her first novel, from 1971, about a girl on the cusp of puberty in wartime England. Jessica Vye has a secret. When she was 9, a famous writer spoke at her school about becoming a writer. He was such an inspiration, she pursued him to the train station and thrust all her writings at him; months later, she heard back: She was a bona fide writer. Jess tells us this breathlessly. 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. She suppresses the memory until it surfaces later in a poem she writes; it will win a nationwide competition. In the novel's middle, and strongest, section, Jess has a sleepover with a posh family in their huge house. 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: Christian takes her to visit some slums, and a stray German bomb kills two kids down the street. The delayed shock causes Jess to write her poem, a move that shows Gardam's insight into both child and budding writer. A final section is less successful as Gardam searches for a truthful ending. The qualities for which Gardam is cherished (the quirkiness, the bright-eyed wonder at reality) are already apparent in this early work.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780027357813
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
09/28/1988
Pages:
192
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Jane Gardam is the only author to have twice been awarded Britain’s prestigious Costa (formerly Whitbread) Award for Best Novel. She was also a Booker prize finalist. Her novel The Man in the Wooden Hat was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book prize and Old Filth was a finalist for the Orange Prize and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in the south of England near the sea.

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