Mothering Sunday

Graham Swift. Knopf, $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-101-94752-4
Set in 1924, in an England still reeling from the loss of young men to the Great War, this elegiac tale offers a haunting portrait of lives in a world in transition. Its events unfold from the viewpoint of Jane Fairchild, a 22-year-old maid at the Berkshire estate Beechwood. On the titular day—a Sunday before Easter that the aristocracy traditionally give their help off to visit their families—Jane bikes to neighboring Upleigh for a final fling with Paul Sheringham, her wealthy lover for the past five years, who is soon to marry into another blue blood family. No one can anticipate that the day will end abruptly with a devastating tragedy—and, for Jane, an epiphany that marks the start of a future as rich and rewarding as it is unforeseen. The story lingers on the immediate aftermath of Jane and Paul’s tryst and Swift (England and Other Stories) invests its every detail—the order in which Paul hastily dons formal attire to lunch with his fiancé and their families, the casualness with which Jane explores his estate home in the nude—with gravity and symbolic weight. His depiction of a fragile caste clinging to traditions that define their sense of noblesse oblige while struggling to bear the era’s crushing burden of “accumulated loss and grief” is poignant and moving—as is his intimation of a brilliant personal destiny that rises from the ashes of a tragically bygone social order. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016
Release date: 04/19/2016
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-0-345-81660-3
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-345-81661-0
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-68324-056-3
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-101-97172-7
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