It’s very hard to find new ways to praise Jane Gardam.
She is of course the British author of some fifteen books of fiction,as well as books for children and non-fiction. “Old Filth” is the most recent and hailed by many as Gardam’s masterpiece, and now here is a new one – a collection of fifteen short stories under the title “The People on Privilege Hill.”
I’m writing this on Mothers Day – an appropriate time to tackle Gardam. Heaven knows what she would concoct if she ever wrote on this sentimental celebration !!! As it is she has wonderful stories like “The Flight Path”, a would-be medical student from the north of England, in London during the blitz trying ( and succeeding ) in getting into a London hospital; “Hair of the Dog” telling of a grandmother in London for a reunion which she almost misses by walking out from Victoria Station and visiting old haunts on foot; finally., a priceless story, ” The Last Reunion” in which four women back at university after many years discover secrets about each other they had never suspected.
Gardam is funny, compassionate, as well as deeply moving. She has won endless prizes for fiction, including the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year, the only person to win it twice.
She was born in Yorkshire, England, is married with three grown-up children, and lives in East Kent, as well as a converted barn on the Pennines. For sheer delight, try her new book.
Book Review by Anne McDougall