Mothering Sunday

Graham Swift is an English novelist who has been influenced by the magic realism of Borges, Marquez and Grass. His successful fiction Last Orders and Waterland  have both been filmed. He has been the winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, The James Tait Black Memorial Prize and The Booker Prize.

In Mothering Sunday, Swift takes a defining moment as a launchpad to his fiction. The novel is set in 1924, the year of Joseph Conrad’s death. The book’s housemaid heroine, Jane Fairchild, reads the news of Conrad’s passing in the morning paper before putting it on her master’s breakfast table. Jane is 22 years old, an orphan and an outsider, but not so plain as to be unattractive to the neighbouring posh boy, Paul Sheringham. Already engaged to a necessarily wealthy gal of similar social standing, Paul is keen to go downstairs and enjoy Jane whilst he can, Dutch cap at the ready. Mothering Sunday, 30 March 1924, offers the chance of full consummation. It’s Jane’s day off, Paul’s parents are out of the house and shortly after 11 am she’s through the front door, clothes off, and business begins. The reader is treated to that uniquely odd blend of taste and vulgarity which is an English sex scene. Post-coital languor ensues. Paul’s petite mort is ‘Swiftly’ followed by his vrai mort. The events of the day will alter Jane’s life forever. As the narrative moves back and forth from 1924 to the end of the century, what we know and understand about Jane – about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees, remembers – deepens with every beautifully wrought moment. I think you will find her story one of profound self-discovery. Through Jane Fairchild, Graham Swift has created a deep and affecting work of fiction. Short enough for a Summer afternoon but well written enough to live long in the memory.

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136 pages in Scribner UK

First published 2016

ISBN 978-1471155239



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Graham Swift


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