I absolutely love Jane Gardam’s work and Faith Fox is one of my most treasured. It’s a complex, sad and very funny tale about a baby, Faith, her parents and relatives, some of whom live ‘up North’ and are eccentric to say the least. It would spoil it if I gave too much away as the final scenes I’m going to quote are from the end of the book. All you really need to know is that there are two delightful characters, an elderly married couple Toots and Dolly who, on Christmas Eve, suddenly receive a parcel from a well meaning rogue. It is in fact their previously unseen baby grand daughter Faith whom they look after until the chaos of a sudden snow fall recedes. As usual with this author the dialogue sparkles and from it we learn a great deal about their relationship.
‘Faith?’ said Toots climbing off the bed, hanging his legs down the side of it, with some dignity. ‘Faith. Faithy? Cock-a-doodle-doo.‘
‘I must get her a feed. She’ll need a feed. I’ve got the milk powder and all the paraphernalia. I knew I should. Here Toots, you’ll have to take her. And I had some nappies.’
‘You’ll never do it , Dolly. I tell you, ring someone up. We’re old people.’
‘I said take her. Here, sit in your chair and for goodness sake don’t stir. Here’s your frame in front of you. Now, hold her.’
”Well,’ he said. ‘By Gad, what happens now? Yes, I’ve got her. Cock-a-doodle-doo.’
Faith beheld her grandfather and frowned. Then she opened her mouth. The top lip was the apex of an isosceles triangle. Up it went, the mouth, opening, opening. Faith yawned.
‘She yawned Dolly.’
‘ I think she’s just waking up. By, she’s got big eyes. What’s happening now?’
Faith’s mouth stayed open but she turned dark red, then purplish. Her eyes shut tight. Her arms began to work up and down like creations on springs. From the mouth came a roar.
‘Here, Dolly, shes’ crying. I can’t manage.’
‘You’ll have to manage. Hold on to her and don’t panic. I’m sterilising bottles. Rock her. She’ll never have been held in a chair like a Christian.’
Fabulous isn’t it? If you don’t know Jane Gardam’s work , I heartily recommend her. As for which books, well that’s a whole new post in the making I feel!