by Rumer Godden
An Episode of Sparrows is about a poor girl in post-war England. Her mother, a traveling singer, has pretty much abandoned her to the care of a couple who run a restaurant. She is feeling lonely, yet has her own kind of pride and stubbornly insists on doing things for herself. She swipes a packet of flower seed from another child in the street and out of curiosity decides to plant them. After several failed attempts, she finds a spot in the rubble behind an old church to make a little hidden garden, enlisting the help of Tip, a local gang leader, and questioning a recalcitrant gardener she finds in the neighborhood to learn how to grow plants and care for them. It was quite wonderful to watch her little garden unfold, although she had to fight for it every step of the way. Her hopes kept getting set higher and higher, as she kept finding better things to grow, and finally coveted a small rosebush. Stealing soil from the gardens of a public square for her rose, she and the other children finally get caught and have to face some dire consequences. My heart wrung for this plucky little girl. I couldn't help feel for the man Vincent who ran the restaurant she lived in, too. He had lofty dreams as well, riddled with unlucky circumstances but undiscouraged. It's really a quite tender story, about connections and people finding they do care for each other, in spite of all their wrongs. It made me eager to find another Rumer Godden to read. I think I have the Peacock Spring on my shelf as well, must go look for it now...
rating: 4/5 ........ 247 pages, 1955
more opinions at:
Harriet Devine's Blog
a pile of leaves