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Marigold Green calls herself 'hideous, quaint and barmy'. Other people calle her Bilgewater, a corruption of Bill's daughter. Growing up in a boys' school where her father is housemaster, she is convinced of her own plainness and peculiarity. Groomed by the wise and loving Paula, upstaged by bad, beautiful Grace and ripe for seduction by entirely the wrong sort of boy, she suffers extravagantly and comically in her pilgrimage through the turbulent, twilight world of alarming adolescenceshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 124 x 192 x 16mm | 181.44g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • Abacus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0349114021
  • 9780349114026
  • 179,373

Review quote

Lively...excellent The TIMES One of the funniest, most entertaining, most unusual stories about young love EVENING STANDARD A striking story TLSshow more

Review Text

Poor Bilgewater, convinced that she's slow and lumpy and looks like a toad, terrified to the point of flight by the simplest social interaction, associating only with the housekeeper, her abstracted scholarly father, and his ancient colleagues at the boys' school where they live - poor Bilgewater (even her name is a joke, perpetrated by the boarders) is a living illustration of the Disraeli Quotation - "Youth is a blunder" - that prefaces her first-person story. The reminiscence starts off as slow and uneventful as her life at the school, with awful Tom Terrapin calling her a Peeping Tom from his window on the "boys' side" and popular head boy Jack Rose flattering her with the loan of Ulysses constituting the most memorable moments of her early teens. But it builds into an almost surrealistic confluence of encounters, involving the same boys, with Bilge at seventeen climbing in and out of windows, buses, and beds in a panicky but ambivalent attempt to escape uncomfortable contacts. The same sort of distraction, dislocation, and impetuous flight marked The Summer After the Funeral (1973), but compared to Summer. . .'s Athene, rueful, ironic Bilge takes herself - well, not less seriously perhaps but with something of an outsider's perspective. ("Beware of self-pity," the housekeeper's motto, could be hers as well.) At once detached and painfully self-preoccupied, Bilgewater has a sharp inner eye that is equally cool and observant whether it is turned inward or out onto the variously flawed and dotty Britishers of her constricted world. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Jane Gardam

Jane Gardam has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature; has twice won a Whitbread Award and has been shortlisted for the Booker more

Rating details

557 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 24% (132)
4 48% (270)
3 20% (111)
2 6% (33)
1 2% (11)
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