Grand Days Synopsis
Meet Edith Campbell Berry, the woman all Australian women would like to be.
On a train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry meets Major Ambrose Westwood in the dining car, makes his acquaintance over a lunch of six courses, and allows him to kiss her passionately. Their early intimacy binds them together once they reach Geneva and their posts at the newly created League of Nations. There, a heady idealism prevails over Edith and her young colleagues, and nothing seems beyond their grasp, certainly not world peace.
The exuberance of the times carries over into Geneva nights: Edith is drawn into a dark and glamorous underworld where, coaxed by Ambrose, she becomes more and more sexually adventurous. Reading Grand Days is a rare experience: it is vivid and wise, full of shocks of recognition and revelation. The final effect of the book is intoxicating and unplaceably original. (Random House Australia)
The Book Beginning is:
On the train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry, at twenty-six, having heard the gong, made her way to the first sitting and her first lunch in a railway dining car.
She moved, in what she felt was a gathered-together way, along to the dining car, having remembered not to leave anything of value back at her seat, even if it were a first-class seat, and yet not having things in her hands — something she had a phobia about, having too many things in her hands.
This is a really chunky novel (my copy with the gorgeous cover-art shown above, is over 700 pages) so it will take me a while to get through this one, but I am finding the almost child-like honest lens through which this story is told most engaging.
I can see that the writing style may not be for everyone though – lots of long sentences in a similar vein to Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. If you enjoyed Oscar and Lucinda like I did, then Grand Days may be for you.