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Gardam, Jane

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Fl-Ha)

(British, 1928– )

Born and brought up in Yorkshire, Gardam has lived in the south since 1946. She writes particularly well about women's lives. Start with the beautifully crafted, linked short stories Black Faces White Faces (1975), set in Jamaica, where repressed English holidaymakers find themselves astonishingly liberated. Move on to God on the Rocks (1978, Booker shortlisted), set in the 1930s, about an adolescent girl's summer of awakening to the dark goings-on of the adults around her. Queen of the Tambourine (1991) (Whitbread Novel award winner) is narrated by elderly Eliza, and is a wonderfully funny and sad account of her life and delusions. Faith Fox (1996) centres on a baby whose mother has died, and reveals the intermingled and complex lives of some well-heeled southerners and an alternative religious community in Yorkshire, but the characters here feel more predictable than in the earlier novels, and the book is soft-centred in comparison to Queen of the Tambourine.

Penelope Fitzgerald, Susan Hill, Mary Wesley. See TEEN  JR

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