Book: Period piece - Livre d'Or — LiveJournal

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Book: Period piece
Monday, 23 April 2007 at 11:31 pm

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Author: Gwen Raverat

Details: Subtitle A Cambridge Childhood; (c) 1952; Pub Faber & Faber 1977; ISBN 0-571-06742-5

Verdict: Period Piece is just delightful!

Reasons for reading it: Mum was enthusing about it. I possibly shouldn't have picked another memoir of the early part of the 20th century straight after rereading The book of Ebenezer le Page, but never mind.

How it came into my hands: I borrowed it from the parents for the trip back to Sweden. I think Mum originally found it in some charity sale.

The hook for Period Piece is that Gwen Raverat was Charles Darwin's granddaughter. But for me the point of it is that she is a wonderful writer, with a really sly sense of humour, rather than the incidental biographical information about Darwin's family. The book really made me smile, especially the author's drawings with their cute, deadpan but silly captions. It's not just an idyllic memoir of her childhood, though; a lot of the humour is sweetening quite pointed observations about both the society she grew up in and hints at the way the world changed during the 20th century. Another thing that Raverat does very well is having a very good sense of a child's perspective, while dropping enough clues that one can imagine the adults as real people even when presented through a child's eyes.

Period Piece is highly quotable. Raverat introduces the work thus:
This is a circular book. It does not begin at the beginning and go on to the end; it is all goin on at the same time, sticking out like the spokes of a wheel from the hub, which is me. So it does not matter which chapter is read first or last.
And she concludes:
Now that I have certainly attained the status of Good Red Herring, I may at last be allowed to say: Oh dear, Oh dear, how horrid it was being young, and how nice it is being old and not having to mind what people think.
And in between is the most delightful and witty memoir ever! It really made me feel I would have loved to know Raverat, although she is very modest and aware of her own flaws.

It seems like a very papersky sort of book, for some reason.

Whereaboooots: Early 20th century Cambridge
Moooood: touchedendeared
Tuuuuune: Indigo Girls: Prince of Darkness
Discussion: 2 contributions | Contribute something

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daneres: default
Date:April 28th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
20 hours after journal entry
I read this when I was at school, probably about Lower or Upper 4, largely because it mentioned the Perse Girls, but don't remember anything much about it. I still have my copy somewhere, so perhaps it is time for a re-read.....
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livredor: hands
Date:May 10th, 2007 04:59 am (UTC)
12 days after journal entry, 05:59 am (livredor's time)
It doesn't mention the Perse very much, only a tangential (and slightly wistful) comment that it wasn't suitable for people of her sort. Here you go:
We girls were condemned to the dull confinement of the schoolroom at home, under a series of daily governesses. This was partly because the Perse School for Girls wasnot well spoken of, at the time; but, still more, because my aunts would not approve of day schools, though boarding schools for older girls might sometimes be allowed. The Aristocracy, however, did not even hold with boarding schools... But really I longed to go to school, though of course I never said so. Anything would have been better than the schoolroom at home.
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