10/07/2003

Bilgewater (by Jane Gardam)

I hadn't come across Jane Gardam until I found a few of her books at a second-hand stall. They looked intriguing, so I paid a few pence and brought them home.

I finally picked up 'Bilgewater' in an odd moment, wondering what it was like with such a bizarre title.

It's about Marigold, the rather plain daughter of a housemaster at a boys' school. Marigold is dyslexic, but otherwise extremely bright, and she is generall known by the most unattractive name of Bilgewater.

This book covers Marigold's teenage years, her growing awareness of how other people live - so differently from her own life - and her honest thoughts and feelings as she grows up.

It's oddly written in places, but I found it mostly enjoyable anyway. There's also a slight surprise in the epilogue, showing that the early part of the book was not in fact what I had expected; instead it cleverly reveals something about several of the threads in the book, and ties them together neatly.

Not the kind of book I would usually read, but I'm glad I did. Recommended.

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