Traditionally Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent, a day when domestic servants were given the day off to visit their families. Jane Fairchild, the Niven family’s maid, is a foundling so has no mother to visit. This Mothering Sunday, the 30th of March 1924, is a light filled day that feels like summer and Jane intends to spend her freedom with her lover of seven years, the son of a neighouring upper middle class family. As he is about to marry a young woman of suitable background, it will be their last time together. This situation could seem exploitative yet from the start it is apparent that Jane is a willing participant in the affair, an intelligent self-possessed young woman who sees a world of possibilities, her life a ‘blank sheet’ to be written on. It seems a simple story, yet the narrative moves back and forth from this exquisitely evoked pivotal day in 1924 to the end of the 20th century with Jane now a respected novelist, a storyteller playing with words. This beautifully written novel also is a meditation on books and reading and words, Jane plays with language as she slowly reveals her life.
Mothering Sunday has such depths that I was still thinking about it days afterwards, seeing and understanding more than was written on the page. I would absolutely recommend it.
A more detailed review can be found here