The greengages had a pale blue bloom, especially in the shade, but in the sun the flesh showed amber through the clear green skin; if it were cracked the juice was doubly warm & sweet ~ The Greengage Summer.
It's been a while since we had a homeschool post ~ but then it's been a while since our homeschooling has been settled & organised. Just the same I did sort out our book study for this term ~ one of my very favourites that I thought Star was now old enough for & might actually enjoy ~ & though she won't say I think she is rather.
So we are reading Rumor Godden's The Greengage Summer. The Americans, typically, renamed it nonsensically Loss of Innocence, but this is much more than the coming of age story it is tweeted as. Godden is brilliant at capturing the inbetween world of the child teetering on the brink of adulthood .
I think one of the things I love most about Godden is her subtlety, & she can be very subtle. The Grey children are selfish & in an effort to alleviate this undesirable state of affairs their mother packs them up holus~bolus & heads for the battlefields of France that they might see for themselves what others had sacrified on their behalf. The Grey children come from a grey, drab & uninteristing England into the wonders & light of a French summer on the Marne. Their mother is taken ill on the journey & the children are left to their own devices at their hotel, Les Olliets. Olliets translates as carnations ~ the flower of adult love. They are suddenly thrust into an adult world they never knew existed, full of nuances, betrayals, hypocrisies wherein the budding beauty of the eldest daughter, Joss, triggers a series of tragic events for which their unthinking selfishness is responsible & from which they can never return.
The other thing I like about Godden is her strong visuals & sense of place.
It looked a garden from one of our French grammar books, hideous & formal, but beyond it a low box hedge bounded a wilderness of grass & shrubs & trees, bamboos, a monkey puzzle smothered in creepers, & tangles of roses. Overgrown paths wound among them where white statues glimmered; some of the statues were broken, their arms & legs hacked off; one was lying on its side. Beyond the wilderness was what seemed to be an orchard, & in its high wall was a blue door. As I looked at the door a barge hooted down the river.
The garden was light, but it was a young light without sun, clear & stained green by the shrubs & trees...
It brings back, very clearly, memories of France: the light, the smells, the quick French it is so hard to follow, the gauzy light [one understands better the French impressionists], the food! A French patisserie is something to behold! And like all the best writers Godden is inadvertently educational because the Marne is also Champagne country & the children learn about how champagne is made.
We will look at the country & history of the Marne for history, which will tie things nicely together given we are unlikely to actually finish Star's school work by the end of term, let alone by the return of work date. More rehearsals & performances are looming & it will be that way all term so will will do what we can when we can & if we have to continue into the hols ~ well, that's the price we pay.