The faded elegance of Les Oeillets, with its bullet-scarred staircase and serene garden bounded by high walls; Eliot, the charming Englishman who became the children's guardian while their mother lay ill in hospital; sophisticated Mademoiselle Zizi, hotel patronne, and Eliot's devoted lover; 16 year old Joss, the oldest Grey girl, suddenly, ...Read MoreThe faded elegance of Les Oeillets, with its bullet-scarred staircase and serene garden bounded by high walls; Eliot, the charming Englishman who became the children's guardian while their mother lay ill in hospital; sophisticated Mademoiselle Zizi, hotel patronne, and Eliot's devoted lover; 16 year old Joss, the oldest Grey girl, suddenly, achingly beautiful. And the Marne river flowing silent and slow beyond them all ...They would merge together in a gold-green summer of discovery, until the fruit rotted on the trees and cold seeped into their bones ...The Greengage Summer is Rumer Godden's tense, evocative portrait of love and deceit in the Champagne country of the Marne - which became a memorable film starring Kenneth More and Susannah York. 'An exciting tale, this novel has both charm and atmosphere, and Miss Godden recaptures with an easy unsentimental naturalness the unfocused vision of adolescence' Evening Standard 'One of the finest English novelists' Orville PrescottRead Less
Even if you've seen the movie (LOSS OF INNOCENCE, 1961), don't skip reading the book! You'll miss a very special experience.
Joss (Joanna), Cecil, Hester, Wilmouse (William, like his uncle), and Vicky (Victoria) Grey live in Southstone, England with their mother full-time while their botanist father's expeditions last years at a time. The year the siblings are 16, 13, 10, 7, and 4, Mother decides that what they need most is to tour war cemeteries in France. Just before they get there Mother becomes very ill, so the youngsters have to get her to the hospital and check themselves into their chosen hotel, whose name is the French for "carnations." The proprietor won't accept unchaperoned minors at first, but her gentleman friend, Eliot, vouches for them. She still doesn't really want them around, especially once Eliot gets a good look at Joss. Joss was also sidelined by illness for their first few days, but one evening she comes down all dressed up for supper, and Eliot just flips! (As do other men who see her.) Maybe Cecil wishes he'd notice her. But she controls herself better than Mademoiselle Zizi does....right?....
(Zizi: are you up on your French slang? "Zizi" is...well, quite the nickname!) There's a lot of French language, but most of it is translated or explained. You shouldn't have any trouble enjoying the wonderful atmosphere Godden creates.
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