Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

Mothering Sunday
Graham Swift

Alfred A Knopf, New York

In 1924 twenty-two year old Jane Fairchild worked as a housemaid in the home of the Nivens, a well-to-do family living in Berkshire, England.

Buy This Book



“. . . a sumptuous and finely-shaded novel . . .”

In common with most of their class, the Nivens had a number of close acquaintances, including the Sheringham family. They never suspected their pretty and efficient maid was closer than anyone to the Sheringham’s son Paul. Later, in her nineties and now a successful writer, Jane looks back on her life and the day it changed – Mothering Sunday 1924, a day in March when the weather turned summery, and Jane crawled into bed with Paul Sheringham. 

They had been lovers for a while, meeting in all kinds of out of the way places. That Sunday was the first and only occasion they’d been able to make love in his bedroom while his family was away. Paul would marry his upper-class fiancée in two weeks, and Jane and Paul made the most of their chance. In her memories Jane admires her handsome upper-crust lover, his freedom and carefree attitude toward the differences in their social classes. The shadow of the First World War lingers over the country, and dramatic changes are happening in the world beyond the window. Jane didn’t suspect then just how much her own world would change, where seeds planted in tragedy would lead to her flowering as a person free from her orphaned birth to become a celebrated writer. 

In Mothering Sunday, Swift has produced a sumptuous and finely-shaded novel that encapsulates a moment in time like an insect in amber.

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews