The Servants' Quarters
By Lynn Freed
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547336039, 224pp.)
Publication Date: April 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Haunted by phantoms of World War II and the Holocaust, young Cressida lives in terror of George Harding, who, severely disfigured, has returned from the front to recover on his family’s African estate. When Harding plucks young Cressida’s beautiful mother and family from financial ruin, establishing them in the old servants’ quarters, Cressida is swept into a life inexorably bound to his.
In her new setting, she is conscripted to enliven Harding’s nephew, the hopelessly timid Edgar, to make him wild and daring.” She takes on this task with resentful fury, leading the boy astray and, in the process, learning to manipulate the disparities of power, class, and ambition. All the while, Harding himself is watching her. And waiting.
The Servants’ Quarters, a complex and sophisticated love story, evokes a vanishing world of privilege with a Pygmalion twist. It is, as Amy Tan said, Freed’s best novel yet.”
LYNN FREED was awarded the inaugural Katherine Anne Porter Award for fiction by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the author of six novels, a short story collection, and a collection of essays.
- Cressida begins by telling us that she was singled out as the scapegoat in her family. Is she right? How do the other characters cope with being “punished” by fate?
"The Servant's Quarters is Lynn Freed's best novel yet. Cressida, a young girl who watches those around her patch up their wounds from the war and carry on with the weight of pretense, is as observant and as wickedly truthful as any Jane Austen character." --Amy Tan"Freed is a beautiful writer, dead-on brilliant, rich in humor, possessing a dark and comforting wisdom." -- Anne Lamott