Friday, 9 October 2009

Saraband (Bliss) 223

I acquired this book only at the weekend, and was most amused to discover that Stuck-in-a-book had also obtained a copy extremely recently. I was intrigued by the description on the back cover: "this beautiful, atmospheric novel, like Antonia White's Frost in May quartet, charts the emotional and intellectual growth of a young girl." I am a big fan of Frost in May, and I also love "coming of age" stories.

This book wasn't exactly a "story"; whereas there is a strong element of linear plot development in Frost in May, this book felt somewhat ethereal. Essentially it tells the story of Louie, an only child who lives in her own world until the arrival of her cousin Timothy, who gives her companionship and understanding. She then goes to school, in a convent. War breaks out and her father is killed. So after the war, she is forced to seek employment and goes to train in secretarial skills; she has a vision of becoming a professional woman with a briefcase.

The episodes in this book were beautifully described and written, it is poetic and dreamy.
I liked this passage, early on in the book, from the child Louie's thoughts:
"Winter had a most exciting smell, it made one think of people whom one knew and yet had never met, places where at some time or other one felt sure one must have lived and yet could not remember. The frost hung on the trees, it made them look as if they had gone white during the night from fear, it gave them a very queer stark look"
But while I enjoyed the beautiful writing in this novel, I didn't feel gripped and it has taken me a while to write this review.

Bliss was not an author who I have come across previously; however I see she has another title on my VMC list - Luminous Isle. Apparently this is also an autobiographical novel.

Just the once published by Virago in a traditional green cover above.


  1. Yet another intriguing VMC! Not one that I was aware of either.

  2. I loved Frost in May, too. I've read the sequel but I believe there are four books in the quartet all together and I'd like to read them all.