The Flight of the Maidens

The Flight of the Maidens

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This delightful novel describes the post-war summer of 1946 - and follows the growing-up of three young women in the months between leaving school and taking up their scholarships at university. Una Vane, whose widowed mother runs a hairdressing salon in her front room ('Maison Vane Glory - Where Permanent Waves are Permanent'), goes bicycling with Ray, the boy who delivers the fish and milk. Hetty Fallowes struggles to become independent of her possessive, loving, tactless mother. And Lieselotte Klein, who had arrived in 1939 on a train from Hamburg, uncovers tragedy in the past and magic in the present. Rooted in the north of England, THE FLIGHT OF THE MAIDENS is peopled with extraordinary characters, who are evoked with all the humour, compassion and eye for detail that mark Jane Gardam as one of Britain's most gifted and original more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 134.62 x 200.66 x 25.4mm | 226.8g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • Abacus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0349114242
  • 9780349114248
  • 286,397

Review Text

It is 1946. Three 17-year-old Yorkshire schoolgirls are poised to enter university having all been awarded important state scholarships. Hetty Fallowes, daughter of a scatty mother and intellectual father mentally damaged by World War I, is off to London. Una Vane, daughter of a widowed self-taught hairdresser (Masion Vane Glory) and Lieselotte Klein, German-Jewish refugee, are going up to Cambridge. But before them lie three glorious months of freedom. Hetty takes to the Yorkshire moors to work at an isolated bed-and-breakfast, but stumbles into an Alice in Wonderland enclave of eccentric aristocrats; Una goes Youth Hostelling with Ray, who sold fish back home but has hidden depths, such as blowing on her naked back when she's cold ('It's an Alpine technique'). Lieselotte, adopted into a London household cluttered with priceless treasures but with nowhere to sleep, discovers the city with growing delight and wonder. All three new lives, each very different, are in their ways strange and magical. We leave them as autumn colours begin to fade, eyes widened, brains alert, fresh-footing it into their academic futures. A captivating novel, much enhanced by Gardam's verbal dexterity and impish sense of fun. (Kirkus UK)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 Prize. She was awarded an OBE in January more

Review quote

A formidably intelligent, gentle, comic genius ... In a hundred years she will be read as Mrs Gaskell is read A. N. Wilson SPECTATOR Gardam ... has written another jewel. This tale of the three young women is made with a concentrate of humour and compassion. Gardam is a brilliantly subtle comedian who can keep the reader enraptured until the last page THE TIMES Jane Gardam has captured the burgeoning renaissance of post-war Britain in her novel THE FLIGHT OF THE MAIDENS. Writing with her usual deft and sensitive touch... Gardam paints scenes like a watercolour and every stroke adds depth and subtlety. The characters are rounded and appealing and humour often bubbles beneath the surface. Christina McLoughlin, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW Gardam has a pleasant, accessible style well-suited to a reassuring tale of regeneration and optimism after adversity. OBSERVER As a celebration of the rites of passage it rings diamond true. It is light, witty, sharp, yet understanding and sympathetic. It is also thoroughly enjoyable SCOTSMAN Gardam blends memory and imagination, intellect and humour, to evoke unsentimentally a vanished England, setting it in the context of the wider world and capturing the bittersweet excitement of leaving childhood behind DAILY TELEGRAPH Jane Gardam, as ever, shapes her narrative with wit and aplomb ... intelligent, inspiriting and entertaining INDEPENDENTshow more