The Flight Of The Maidens follows three young women’s journey into womanhood. It chronicles the lives of three country girls in a post World War Two era as they embarked into college with each getting scholarships at a university. There’s Hetty Fallowes who has a mind of her own, trying to find the courage to get off her loving but tactless mother. Una Vane, the level headed daughter of a salon-owner is romantically linked with the milk delivery boy, Ray; and Liesellote Klein who is part of the kindertransport burdened by a tragic past caused by the war. Together, the three somewhere discovered some sort of solace with one another as they experience life outside their realm for the first time.
“… The Maidens” is nowhere near the likes of Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants nor Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women of some sort. There was more life in it and intelligence as to how author Jane Gardam tell their story. There was a strong narrative for each girl that collectively felt similar whilst they go through life.
Much of the pages were focused with Hetty whose character reminds me so much of the young Jane Austen or in a modern world, the ambitious young Elizabeth Taylor. There was depth in her understanding and the way she deal with each situation – a heavily realistic approach that lends a great scope on what young girls her age really feels.
While Una despite of her cool head and independence, still has the idealism of a young girl. She’s not perfect and she knows it so she trying to manage and deal with her mother, with her beau and with her entry to Cambridge. I am very happy that by the end of it, the ever so charming Ray was “presumably” her first and last.
Liesellote on the other hand was barely having a life as she’s still trying to move on from the fact that her family died during the holocaust. I love the fact that Gardam isn’t pretentious at all with her characters. There was a sense of realness in them and a tangible vibe that captures the spirit of their journey.
I’ve only wished that the angle about Rupert (the man that Hetty fell in love with at the latter part of the book) was thoroughly explained and was perhaps prolonged at some point. It wouldn’t hurt Hetty’s character, I guess or maybe I’m just being romantic that’s all.
Overall, the novel was a great sympathetic and humorous narrative that soars high enough to engulf the readers elusive attention thus providing enough steam to power up the flight of the maidens.
Ratings: 2 out of 5 stars