Frost in May

Frost in May 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 Adapts To This Cloistered World, Learning Rigid Conformity And Subjection To Authority Passionate Friendships Are The Only Deviation From Her Total Obedience Convent Life Is Perfectly Captured By Antonia White

Antonia White was born as Eirine Botting to parents Cecil and Christine Botting in 1899 She later took her mother s maiden name, White In 1921 she was married to the first of her three husbands The marriage was annulled only 2 years later, and reportedly was never consummated She immediately fell in love again with a man named Robert, who was an officer in the Scots Guards They never married,

❴Read❵ ➯ Frost in May Author Antonia White –
  • Hardcover
  • 221 pages
  • Frost in May
  • Antonia White
  • English
  • 11 July 2019
  • 9780860680499

10 thoughts on “Frost in May

  1. says:

    4.5 starsThis is an autobiographical novel about life in a Catholic Girls school, quite closely based on White s own life Like the protagonist of the novel, Nanda, White was a Catholic convert at the age of nine and was sent to a school very like the one in the book Nanda wants to be a good Catholic as is shown in her prayer on her first night at the convent Nanda felt a wave of piety overwhelm her as she knelt very upright in her bench, her lisle gloved hands clasped on the ledge in front of her Oh dear Lord, she said fervently in her mind, thank you for letting me come here I will try to like it if You will help me Help me to be good and make me a proper Catholic like the others The novel covers Nanda s life from the age of nine to fourteen It is the first of four autobiographical novels White had mental health problems throughout her life and she referred to them as The Beast When she was twenty two her mental health was so bad that she was admitted to a public asylum, Bethlem whose nickname was bedlam She didn t really begin to write until her mid 30s The novel vividly describes daily life in a convent school There are no beatings and direct physical abuse, the cruelties are psychological It is about expectation and not disappointing The Lord or Our Lady The little things are cumulative, like putting salt on the stewed fruit as a form of mortification The girls were expected to sleep on their backs with their arms folded across their chests That way if the dear Lord were to call you to Himself during the night, you would be ready to meet Him as a Catholic should The whole is about the crushing of innocence and the smothering of the natural instincts of children Nanda is a convert to Catholicism and so is automatically viewed with some suspicion The goal of the nuns is generally to break the will of the child to ensure they become the right sort of Catholic Mother Radcliffe, the Mistress of Discipline is a particularly unpleasant character, the so as she appears kind and pleasant You are very fond of your own way, aren t you, Nanda Yes, I suppose so, Mother And do you know that no character is any good in this world unless that will has been broken completely Broken and re set in God s own way I don t think your will has been quite broken, my dear child, do you The ending is very powerful and shocking, describing Nanda s expulsion from the school Her distress and her father s coldness are very well written and it is clear that White is writing form her personal experience This is a well written and competent description of life in a Catholic Convent school in the early twentieth century and a great advert for atheism

  2. says:

    We ve all been there, sort of That is, we ve all seen this basic story unfold, the slow dawning of a worldly realization within the walls of a formerly impregnable fortress, the heady push into the free air, when the idols have crumbled and the game is up We ve not all been to a Convent School For Girls, though, exactly, and that s what makes this story instantly mesmerizing Here, we are between the wars, 1930, and the convent school is place of sheltered neutrality for the female children of the aristocracy and well heeled merchant class.The Stations Of The CrossFor this reader, there was no disconnect from the days when I was under the guidance of much the same kind of organization The regulated systems all fall into place, like the different prayers and devotions for the passing hours, the shifts in stage managing the seasons of the Church There is weight and depth in the discipline of the faith, for well, for the faithful, anyway The prayers might be thought of as scales are to the musician, etudes maybe And the seasonal shifts taken as the natural synchronization of a living faith to the earthly indicators of God s infinite complexity, mirrored in the outside world Catholicism wisely takes the cues and codes of the observable world and ritualizes them, imbues them with the glow of transcendence Alternately, the atmosphere of the classical Roman Catholic educational model may be thought of as relentless indoctrination, accompanied by sharp eyed surveillance, and enforced with various kinds of cruelty, mental or physical Just a matter of whether you found it inspirational, or not.Cold Snap Frost In May brings on the omniscient Mother Superior, the gruff but kind worker bee nuns, and their opposites, the vindictive brittle old nuns past any sense or hope of return to the race Did I just read this or am I remembering Possibly the worst are the passive aggressive, glenda the good witch nuns all of them filling impressionable young adolescents, dangerously close to their delicate first maturity full of wishful nonsense and toxic backspin Stories of little girls who just wouldn t listen, penances, privations and mortifications secret reports and constant observation There is one instance here of the famous game wherein the nun called the Mistress Of Discipline judges where a hidden key may have been pocketed by one of the girls, strictly on the basis of sizing up their guilt with her withering stare Played for carefully instructive laughs, it is still agonizing She is never wrong This is not to imply that the Lord s work is always accomplished in such a direct or straightforward path nothing is pleasing to God than suffering bravely borne for our Lord s sake I expect you noticed that there were some children from the Poor School making their First Communion with you this morning You must remember that they do not come from good homes like you they are often quite pathetically ignorant Well, one of the nuns was helping them to put on their veils and their wreaths, and one little girl called Molly had great difficulty with hers So Mother Poitier fastened it on with a big safety pin, but, as you know, she does not see very well, and she unfortunately put the pin right through Molly s ear The poor little girl was in great pain, but she thought it was part of the ceremony, and she never uttered a word of complaint She thought of the terrible suffering of Our Lord in wearing His crown of thorns and bore it for His sake I am sure Molly received a very wonderful grace at her First Communion and I should like to think that anyone here had such beautiful, unselfish devotion as that She might have gone about all day with that pin through her ear, if she had not fainted just now at breakfast Now, talk away, again children, and be as happy as you can all day long But even in your happiness, never forget that a good Christian is always ready to take up his cross and deny himself and unite himself to the passion of Our Blessed Lord. Heaven Can WaitThe seasons ebb and flow, the misunderstandings get ironed out, and the onset of a holy occasion may bring the opportunity for an actual bright line to be drawn, in the murk and incense laden atmosphere Or, yet again, the opposite of that, in the confounding contrariness of holding real life to a mythical mirror Antonia White s characters are a study in natural opposites, and the girls are as intriguing as the nuns As the clientele of the Convent Of The Five Wounds are anything but disadvantaged, the girls are often well travelled, vaguely worldly and nearing the ripening verge of young womanhood By turns childish, giddy, and then haughty, knowing and flirtatious, the little ones are way too clever to fall for the idea of convent forever, so devoutly pitched by the staff the idea that a school girl would find her vocation, and choose to take vows and join the convent The nuns know this generally won t sell, of course, but play along gamely, since the least likely amongst the girls just may well, we ve seen all of this embodied by Julie Andrews and Hayley Mills in cinemascope, so not much use letting the secrets out.And the author has other ideas Her novel is pitched to a counter crescendo midway or through the proceedings, where our central girls are laid up in the infirmary, faking measles their devious hanky exchange and breathing on each other program has worked at least to the extent of sharing the sniffles And here they are allowed tea and toast, can read or write as they please, and they spend days by the fireside recovering most crucially from the convent itself, and its rules The Trouble With AngelsHaving drawn us along in the gearing up to the liturgical year, the waves of penance and mysticism in the cold and forbidding nunnery, it is here in the glimmer of the fire light that author White finds her tipping point Tea and sympathy in a safe port of call, a lazy pause, a weightless lull in the strictness and conformity before the inevitable fall It doesn t really matter what that fall may be, as for the nuns it is the rarest of their charges who doesn t fall, who doesn t succumb to the worldly temptations of debutante balls and the ongoing jazz age outside the walls of the convent There is sublime clarity and certainty in Antonia White s prose, a sense of having lived it, too, that counters neatly the tensions and uneasy doubts that it portrays Five stars.

  3. says:

    I first read this book many years ago and it was interesting to re read it This is based on Antonia White s own experiences of life in a convent school When we first meet Nanda Fernanda Grey, she is nine years old and on her way to the Convent of the Five Wounds at Lippington Her beloved father is a convert of only a year and so Nanda is greeted at the school with a kind of amused wariness and acceptance that she isn t quite one of them and excuses must be made for her mistakes The novel looks at Nanda s experiences and al the strange rituals and requirements of Convent life, along with that of an education always dominated by religion.Nanda is always trying her best to conform, while naturally testing her boundaries as any child does and slightly resentful of the denial of special friends and rules about everything from reading matter to how the girls are to bathe Despite the fact that friendships are frowned upon and fought against, of course Nanda makes them It is the beautiful Leonie De Wesseldorf, half French and half German, from an old Catholic family of wealth and privilege, who, without meaning to, brings about her downfall.In essence, this is a school story about a young girl, growing up in a closed community However, the ambiguous feelings of religion hang over everything Nanda does She both embraces her religion fervently and yet fights against it, even without meaning to As all children do, she understands far than the adults think she does If they were vague about heaven, they were very definite indeed about hell Nanda felt a great deal positive about the conditions of life in hell than in, say, the West of Scotland or Minneapolis, states the author with, one feels, only too much truth It is because Nanda tries so desperately to please both at school, and at home, that you feel for her so strongly at the end of the book A very moving and wonderful read.

  4. says:

    After a Summer spent pulling off the shelf each and every cheapo Virago I ran across, accumulating a shelf full from left to right and vice versa cheapo runs pretty much anything under three bucks or so six dollar used pb s is over doing it I ran out onto the internets and ordered this one special ninety five cents, no shipping charge because my shelf already contained its Trilogy Sequel That s right folks This novel s sequel is a trilogy Which makes it a tetralogy and you know how much I love those Rikki s got one two, Durrell s got one, who else They re just slightly cooler than a trilogy which are tootoo common and sensible than a never ending cereal, seriously So that s one list the tetralogy list Here s another list School novels Joyce has one And paring it down slightly, Girlschool novels Not so many of them Here s the band Girlschool Mot rhead used to tour with them But you re probably too cool for school too cool for rock n roll Read this little nugget from White also, it s a YA the way YA s used to be but adults can read it too you ll get some of them anti Catholic sentiments purged some of your anti authoritarian urges purged you ll feel so good about your Have It My Way BadAss Self Maybe you ll mentally rewrite it as, you know, one of those Muslim Schools for girls which teaches naught but obedience to Allah Or you ll just be glad for publicly funded secular education for all I ve got three White s lined up myself.

  5. says:

    And do you know that no character is any good in this world unless that will has been broken completely Broken and re set in God s own way I don t think your will has quite been broken, my dear child, do you At first it seems that this is a book about Catholicism but really I think it s about how religion is used as a cover for the performance of power specifically, here, patriarchal power even when it is wielded by female hands as is the case with the nuns in charge of this school When Nanda rebels, it s not against religious teaching in itself but against the school rules that aim to stifle all individuality, creativity and personality Friendships are frowned upon because they are dangerously self indulgent, and reading matter is rigidly controlled story books are confiscated but tales of the martyrs involving the horrific and gory deaths of saints are required reading A girl who enjoys performing in a school play based on the Divine Comedy finds herself thrown out of the cast as she s having way too much fun, and the final crisis for Nanda is precipitated by her assertion of her imagination view spoiler in a racy though harmless novel she s writing to amuse her friends hide spoiler

  6. says:

    This book brought back many memories for me of my education at a Catholic convent school Nanda s father is a convert to Catholicism Her father decides to send Nanda to the convent school of The Five Wounds where she can be educated as a Christian and also learn much about her newly adopted faith Nanda is extremely intelligent and has studied all the necessary books on the Catholic faith she can answer any question her new religion with the ease of a girl much older She is not however quite as well prepared for living her life as a Catholic among girls who were born into the faith, i.e cradle Catholics There are all those little idiosyncrasies that go with living a faith until it just becomes part of you.Nanda is a very devout girl and has the zeal that most new converts have, they are often far strict with themselves that those who were born Catholic She develops a huge crush on one of the older girls and does all in her power to spend time with her and her group of friends I think if Nanda had been able to bend her will to the wishes of the nuns and to obey without question, far easier than being rebellious, she would have made it to the end of her school years there Unfortunately she is just a little to self willed and this leads to the shattering conclusion of the story.

  7. says:

    Unforgettable story I finished this 3 weeks ago and still don t know quite how to review it Almost anything I say about it will give the story s ending away It was somewhat spoiled for me in reading the blurb on the back cover which I wish I hadn t So I ll leave it at a story which felt like real life, so much so I wish it didn t Read it Thanks for the recommendation Jo Your review is excellent

  8. says:

    In her introduction to this novel, author Elizabeth Bowen claims asserts that this is the only girls school story which can be thought of as, not only a classic, but also a work of art It s a book which has been long known to me mostly because of Virago founder Carmen Callil s championship of it indeed, it was the first Virago Modern Classic to be published Although Callil had grown up in Australia, and not England, her own childhood spent at a Catholic boarding school meant that she had a deep kinship with this book and felt that it really got at the truth, not only of institutional settings, but also the peculiar emotional and power of the Catholic faith and its traditions Another legendary aspect of this book is that it is known to be based closely on the author s own life and experiences Although it is narrated with a cool, objective tone there is certainly no first person confiding voice to be found here the precision of detail rings true Even with a reader like myself who lacks an insider s knowledge of Catholic instruction, and finds it to be both bizarre and even repugnant, one cannot help but be drawn into the world described within And it is a complete world, with its own manners, traditions, pleasures and sacrifices The protagonist is Fernanda Nanda Gray, who joins the Convent of the Five Wounds when she is only nine years old Nanda father is a classics teacher, recently converted to Catholicism, and he wants his only child to experience the full on Catholic immersion experience On her first day in the school, Nanda is embarrassed, even shamed, to learn that her father has requested that she be subjected to a daily cold bath quite surplus to the mortifications of the flesh demanded by the school For the next five years, Nanda will devote herself to both her studies and her faith, but despite her general willingness and piety, there is always a battle going on sometimes in background, and sometimes in the foreground to break her spirt As one of the nuns tells her during her first months at the convent The trouble with you, my dear, is that you don t seem to have any normal, natural naughtiness about you She goes on to tell the nine year old Nanda that the trouble with your faults is that they don t show You re obstinate, you re independent, and if a child of nine can be said to have spiritual pride, spiritual pride is your ruling vice The power struggle going on not just to control the children, but to break them down entirely is quite terrifying at times Being good at something, loving something, being attached to something, is considered wrong unless it is one s devotion to God There are countless examples in the book of this pitiless system at work I couldn t love Nanda s religion at all, but she does despite some of its mentally terrifying aspects, and her fear that she will be chosen by God for the vocation of a nun The worldliness of Catholicism which always seems to me antithetical to the tenents of the faith is also very hard to grasp Most of the other pupils in the school come from European old money and families long associated with the Catholic faith Nanda, as a middle class English child and a recent convert, is held slightly apart, and one of the most disturbing plot lines is the repeated attempts to separate her from her richer friends It s a real insider s glimpse into a private world, and although I couldn t love this world the way Nanda does, the narrative compels the reader to feel the horror of expulsion along with its young protagonist.

  9. says:

    It will not be an easy task for me to write a review of this book I am afraid it will be too personal but I hope a reader forgives me.I should explain at the beginning that I grew up in a very Catholic country Some say that is Catholic than Vatican, at least it was, because nowadays it is changing It shouldn t be my memoir but I must add also that I went through a religious zeal Catholic, of course , a kind of conversion from a rather passive belief in my teenage years and then, you could say, I broke free.Why I think it is important to write this here is that I felt many times the same way which Nanda felt I went through the same doubts and fears, I found the same consolation So, I can agree that the world of religious feelings which was described here was real.Most of the doctrine in this novel I have known but not all It was interesting to learn new ones.Let s go to the point of the review It is a beautiful story about a growing up, about an exploration of belief, about what religion can do bad and good things , how everyone must find own path.You can find here a beauty of faith mostly Catholic, but in some way, it is also universal On the other hand, you can find here the reasons why and when religion is enslaving But it isn t a religious book neither anti religious.I will stress out again, it is a great story about a young girl, her friends, her feelings And this world, in a boarding Catholic school, wasn t nice, enjoyable or even friendly But still, when you are young you are trying to find a way to live, to really live.The book was written in an almost charming way There weren t very dramatic twists but there were very crucial and important events for Nanda.If you want information I recommend a review of J It is perfect, much better than mine.

  10. says:

    On the surface, this is a classic girls school story, largely autobiographical, told with a simplicity that belies the book s underlying complexity For it s a Catholic convent school, and recently converted Nanda has somewhat 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, and I was surprisingly caught up in Nanda s experiences, particularly at the shattering ending.

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