1920s , 1928 , Olivier 7 Comments
I hope these 25 Books in 25 Days posts aren’t getting tedious for people? Nearly halfway! And today I wasn’t sure if I was going to find time to read As Far As Jane’s Grandmother’s (1928) by Edith Olivier , particularly since I’d had an aborted attempt to read it a couple of years ago. As it turns out, I liked it much more this time around. It was the limit of their nursery walks, and all through their lives it remained for them the most explicit measure of distance.
The title refers to the distance that Jane usually travels as a child – no further than her grandmother’s. If memory serves from Anna Thomasson’s excellent A Curious Friendship , the phrase was one Edith used in her own life. In the novel, though, it takes on a second meaning – the metaphorical parameters of life determined by Jane’s grandmother, outside which she cannot pass. Having had a childhood and young womanhood circumscribed by what her grandmother believes moral and correct, the book shows us people entering Jane’s life who might transform it – whether friends or lovers, or even a nunnery. And will she ever be able to escape the role set out for her?
I’ve now read all of Olivier’s novels (there aren’t that many), and none come close to The Love Child , her first. This one followed a year later, and I think is my second favourite – what made the first so special was a sort of fairytale naivety that she could never quite recapture, but this is a very engaging novel nonetheless. I think it would fit alongside many of the green-spined Virago Modern Classics. Share:
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