Mothering Sunday; Graham Swift
Mothering Sunday is a very short novel, fewer than 180 pages, but one that is very well written. Mothering Sunday represents the fourth Sunday of Lent, a day when hired help in England were typically given the day off to visit family.
The story begins in 1924 on Mothering Sunday in London. Jane Fairchild is a lowly maid who is in love with Paul Sheringham, the wealthy land owner who lives next door. Paul is the good friend of Jane's employer. For nearly seven years the two have been carrying on a secret affair. On this particular day, since Jane was an orphan and has no family she spends the day with Paul making love. For the first time the manor house is empty and, their lovemaking is slow yet intense yet, there is a sense that their time together is about to come to an end. In fact, as Paul leaves Jane he is off to meet the woman he is about to marry in two short weeks. Jane stays behind taking her time to have lunch at his house and even to walk around naked exploring the empty house. She is particularly fascinated with the library. At Beechwood manor where Jane works she has been given full access to the library where her passion for books and reading are fueled.
Mothering Sunday is a story of self discovery. The story alternates from the past to present where Jane, now in her 90's, has seen her life transformed in unexpected ways. The author has a talent for capturing the mood, the tension and the period in history. Although it took me a little while to get into this story, I was happy I stuck with it as I so enjoyed Jane's journey.