Jane Gardam’s marvelous stories of young girls on the threshold of womanhood—God on the Rocks and Crusoe’s Daughter—have delighted her many readers. These “modern classics” (The Independent) are now joined by another novel that is equally fresh and vivid, comic and touching. Jessica Vye introduces herself on the first page by announcing, “I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine.” Jessica’s “violent experience,” a prescient prediction of her future, colors her school days and her understanding of the adult world around her, as does the war raging in Europe. It’s a time of rationing and restrictions, of uncomfortable dresses, restrained essays, and dusty tea shops. Young Jessica has been told by a revered author that she is “beyond all possible doubts” a born writer. The proof being her refusal to conform, her compulsion to tell the absolute truth, and her dedication to noting her experiences. This she knew. What she doesn’t know is that the experiences which now enrich and sustain her talent will one day lead to a new and wholly unexpected reality.
Jane Gardam has been twice awarded the Whitbread Prize and was also a Booker prize finalist. She is winner of the David Higham Prize, the Royal Society for Literature’s Winifred Holtby Prize, the Katherine Mansfield Prize, and the Silver Pen Award from PEN. Her novels include God on the Rocks, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Old Filth, finalist for the Orange Prize; The Man in the Wooden Hat, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Last Friends, finalist for the Folio Award. She lives in the south of England near the sea. In 1999 Jane Gardam was awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize in recognition of a distinguished literary career.