Monday, 14 June 2010

I will not serve (Mayhere) 142

From the blurb on the back of this book, I will not serve sounded like a bit of a mix between something by Antonia White and Olivia (schoolgirl in love with teacher expelled from a convent school). In fact, when I opened the book I found that it had been translated from the French by Antonia White.

It is a book about Sylvie, 17 years old. She has fallen in love with one of the nuns at the convent where she has been studying and is expelled. The book opens with a number of letters from Sylvie to Julienne, the nun, trying to sort out her feelings. But Julienne is advised by the convent to remain silent, which she does, until Sylvie deliberately makes herself ill in an attempt to get her attention back again. The book also uses extracts from Sylvie's journal and letters to her cousin Claude to build up the story, and the reader is forced to consider huge and weighty themes of religion, love and obsession. But because the writing, and White's translation is so lyrical and beautiful, the book is an absolutely lovely to read.

There is an absolutely lovely review of this book by Fleur Fisher here...

It's just been published once by Virago, in an original green cover, and I think it is comparatively rare.


  1. This sounds excellent Verity - According to the biography that I recently read of White, her translation work kept her solvent (and mostly sane) for long periods of her life - so with this in mind, and bearing in mind that I loved Frost in May - I would like to have a look at this. I will look out for it.

    Thanks for sharing

  2. I have just ordered this online after reading your and fleurfisher's reviews. I liked the sound of it immediately but when you said that the wonderful Antonia White had translated it, I had to buy it!

    Thank you for pointing out what sounds like a great read.

  3. 過去的事早已消失,未來的更是渺不可知,只有現在是真實的。 ..................................................

  4. This sounds fantastic - I'll look out for it! Also reminds me I must finish my Antonia White books...