A Few Fair Days

Jane Gardam, Author
Jane Gardam, Author Greenwillow Books $12.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-07602-3
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Wistful and childlike, Gardam's collection of short stories focuses on large and small crises in Lucy's life, such as wandering away from her home by the sea (in ``The Wonderful Day''), getting terribly wet, meeting her elderly aunts and returning home in time for bath and tea. An enchanting cover by Anthony Browne sets the tone; in this place, those great-aunts appear like angels to a child, and just as suddenly become ordinary. In ``Jake's Queed,'' a few overheard words in the rooms of a vacant house set childish imaginations singing; in ``Auntie Kitty and the Fever House,'' the illness of Lucy's mother is the most overwhelming of events. The atmosphere is blissful, but Lucy's childhood is not without mishap, and from the collection comes the revelation that if the fair days are few, they are rich and of lasting importance. The writing has an uncommon depth, and elegant, free-flowing language; each setting in an idyllic past is garnished with timeless and universal concerns. Gardam's stories, published in England before Through the Dolls' House Door , are a garden of rich possibilities and thought-provoking outcomes that readers will want to linger in, and revisit frequently. Ages 10-up. (September)
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