Friday, 5 December 2008


I’ve just finished the first volume of Rumer Godden’s autobiography, A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep. Fascinating on the subject of her ghastly schools in England and her upbringing and marriage in India. Unfortunately it is out of print but you can buy it via Abe Books. Born 100 years ago, she led an unconventional life for a woman of her times, and her mind worked quite differently from that of most women of the memsahib class.
For more about her, see this article in the Telegraph, this obituary and this website
Several of her successful novels were made into films, including The Greegage Summer, but she seems to have spent most of her early married life penniless, thanks to her financially disastrous first husband.
I've also fairly recently re-read the evocative Kingfishers Catch Fire, which I now see has parallels with Rumer Godden’s own life. Here is the blurb.
“Kashmir is a place so fabulously beautiful that no painter can paint it, no poet can render it in verse.Sophie, a young English woman with two children, goes to set up home there; she finds a tumbledown house in a valley carpeted with flowers below the Himalayas. Settling down to live there quietly, frugally, peacefully and at one with the village community, she is blissfully ignorant of the turmoil that her arrival produces, with the villagers soon in fierce competition for her patronage. Sophie's cook is finally prompted to take action to secure his position and the consequences of his innocent plotting are catastrophic.”


callmemadam said...

What an interesting and sometimes disturbing writer she was! I like the books about houses; A Fugue in Time and China Court are favourites.

Debs said...

I started reading An Old-Fashioned Arrangement last night, and simply can't put it down. Loving it.

Susie Vereker said...

Delighted, Debs.

Thanks for the suggestions about books, Callmemadam. (interesting blog name. I remember my father beging rather keen on the original musical!)