Friday, August 26, 2016

BilgewaterBilgewater by Jane Gardam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my failings as a writer is that I begin a book with attention to the author's descriptive details, her dialog, her scenes from beginning to end and I brush the edge of learning but then I lose my critiquing way. I started Bilgewater with much admiration for all of these writerly skills and then became involved in the story such that I never took note again. Every time I put the book down, I couldn't wait to pick it up again. All of my fondness for English life in novels resurfaced and I was right there in the Master's house with Bilgie bemoaning her motherless teen age self. Usually, I don't care for coming-of-age tales, eager to get on with adulthood, but this story beguiled me. She lives with her father, a master in a boy's school in the north of England. In first person (never easy to read), we learn of his absent-minded attention, their steady, funny housekeeper, Paula, her difficult friends and stalwart uncles and her initial reading difficulties. My attention never flagged and I lived with them all for the three days it took to read the story, eschewing tv to jump into bed at night to swim laps with Bilgie on school breaks and play chess with her dad. I shouldn't be surprised since Jane Gardam has never failed me and this is one more feather in her bonnet.

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