Margaret Rumer Godden (1907 – 1998) was an English author who wrote over 60 books of fiction and non-fiction.
She had a fascinating childhood.
Her father was a shipping company executive in Narayananj, India (now in Bangladesh). She and her three sisters spent their childhood divided between time in Colonial India and boarding school back in England. Godden trained as a dance teacher and returned to India to run a dance school with one of her sister’s for twenty years.
She wrote her first novel during this time, in 1939, The Black Narcissus.
The Greengage Summer was written in 1958.
My 2013 Pan Macmillan edition has a preface from Godden herself explaining that this story is ‘partly true‘.
When she was 15 (in 1922), her mother, in a fit of despair declared ‘we are going to the Battlefields of France.’
What followed was an exquisite coming of age tale about discovery, deceit and international thieves! Godden evoked the long, hot, lazy summer of rural France to perfection. All those awkward young adult urges and desires are remembered in painful detail. She also used foreshadowing and hindsight to great effect via her narrator, Cecil.
I loved this so much, that I have now ordered a couple of Godden’s Indian based stories – The Peacock Spring and Coromandel Sea Change.
My early thoughts on The Greengage Summer are here.
Highly recommended as an easy, engaging read when you’re in the mood for a simple but pleasurable break from your heavier reads.