Author(s): Antonia White
'Frost in May is the unsurpassed novel of convent school life. This story of a clash between a determined young girl and an authoritarian regime is both perceptive and painfully emotional, convincing in every detail' - Hermione Lee, Observer
With a new introduction by Tessa Hadley
Nanda Gray, the daughter of a Catholic convert, is nine when she is sent to the Convent of Five Wounds. Quick-witted, resilient and eager to please, she accepts this closed world where, with all the enthusiasm of the outsider, her desires and passions become only those the school permits. Her only deviation from total obedience is the passionate friendships she makes.
Convent life is perfectly captured - the smell of beeswax and incense; the petty cruelties of the nuns; the eccentricities of Nanda's school friends.
Books in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
A small masterpiece, the compelling and passionate story of young girls at a repressive religious school, told with such lyricism and elegant economy, such subtle understanding -- Tessa Hadley A small masterpiece, the compelling and passionate story of young girls at a repressive religious school, told with such lyricism and elegant economy, such subtle understanding -- Tessa Hadley A masterpiece. Beautifully written, it is a calm and factual record of the slow death of the soul -- Selina Hastings Intense, troubling, semi-miraculous ... IT is not the only school story to be a classic; but I can think of no other that is a work of art * Elizabeth Bowen * Evelyn Waugh called [her] one of the very best novelists of the day - a title she still deserves -- Carol Shields Frost in May is the unsurpassed novel of convent school life. This story of a clash between a determined young girl and an authoritarian regime is both perceptive and painfully emotional, convincing in every detail -- Hermione Lee * Observer *
On the surface, this is a classic girls' school story, largely autobiographical, told with a simplicity that belies the book's underlying complexity. The book is set in a Catholic convent school, and recently converted Nanda has somewhat more to face there than the usual run of classes and tests, sports, and midnight feasts. White's portrayal of the school, the students, and the nuns is clear and unsparing. Paul - The Book Grocer
Antonia White (1899-1980) was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton before going to St Paul's School for Girls and training for the stage at RADA. From 1924 until the Second World War she worked as a journalist. Among numerous volumes of short stories, fiction and autobiography, Antonia White published a celebrated quartet of novels linked by their heroine: Frost in May (1922), The Lost Traveller (1950), The Sugar House (1952) and Beyond the Glass (1954).