Review 1887: Edith Trilogy Read-Along: Grand Days

I decided to participate in the Edith Trilogy Read-Along hosted by Brona of This Reading Life, but my copy didn’t arrive until June 29th, so I am late for the first one, which was to be read in June. I hope to be on time for the second in the series. This series introduces me to Frank Moorhouse, a highly regarded Australian writer.

On a train from Paris to Geneva to work at the newly created League of Nations, Edith Campbell Berry meets Major Ambrose Westwood, who will be a more senior officer in another section of the League. Edith is naïve and dedicated, a quirky person who has her Ways of Going but is determined to become more cosmopolitan than her Australian roots have made her so far. On the train, she and Ambrose share a kiss.

Edith and her coworkers are excited to be working for this important organization with its worldwide focus and its aim to prevent war. Edith conscientiously studies diplomacy from Ambrose and other senior officers and makes contributions of her own, enough to attract their attention and mentorship.

She does not always make the right choices and finds herself in some ridiculous situations. She also begins an affair with Ambrose, whose unusual proclivities lead her in unexpected directions.

At first, I wasn’t sure how much I liked Edith, particularly her habit of listing and examining what she thinks she knows and her almost aggressive questioning of ideas until she’s sure she understands them. I also noticed that she seemed not to pay much attention to events developing in Europe toward the end of the 20’s. But eventually I was charmed by her.

There were some pages toward the middle of the book when she was enumerating ideas that I skipped after reading several paragraphs, and shortly thereafter, when she was contemplating her poop, a scene I know was supposed to be funny, I was not amused. Still, I’m interested to read Cold Light, the next novel, especially because the book cover description contains a detail that I hope is wrong.

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8 thoughts on “Review 1887: Edith Trilogy Read-Along: Grand Days

  1. I was amused that you had to skip some parts of this book. Moorhouse pulls no punches. I was saddened to read of his death having fond memories of his novels but especially his autobiography or should I say the biography of the Martini. So good, amusing and just a treat to read. I saw him speak at a writers festival and his wit and dry humour and story telling skills made the session memorable. I worked in Canberra many years after the setting of Cold Light but in the days when the rate of change was slower and I could relate to many of his antidotes and the story overall.

    1. I didn’t really have to skip them. I got a little bored with her enumerations in one section where they went on for pages and skipped to the end of them.

  2. Sorry for the late reply Kay – Covid at the end of June has got me behind on several fronts!!
    Thank you for giving Edith a chance.

    As Penelope said, Frank was famous for being outspoken. Everything was open for discussion and he battled long and hard against censorship. But I also found the poo digression a bit too much information!!

    The first time I read Grand Days I adored Edith and her ways. The second time she bugged me. This time I felt nostalgic and amused by her ways. A bit like a mother observing her young adult children entering the world, thinking that they’re discovering everything for the first time ever!

    I love this era of history. There’s always a lingering sadness knowing how it will come to an end with WWII, despite the hopefulness and idealism that came out of WWI.

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