The Queen of the Tambourine

The Queen of the Tambourine Alternative cover edition of ISBN ISBN Eliza Peabody is one of those dangerously blameless women who believe they have God in their pocket She is too enthusiastic she talks

  • Title: The Queen of the Tambourine
  • Author: Jane Gardam
  • ISBN: -
  • Page: 346
  • Format: Paperback
  • Alternative cover edition of ISBN 0349102260 ISBN13 9780349102269 Eliza Peabody is one of those dangerously blameless women who believe they have God in their pocket She is too enthusiastic she talks too much Her concern for the welfare of her wealthy south London neighbours even extends to ingenuous, well meaning notes of unsolicited advice under their doors.It is juAlternative cover edition of ISBN 0349102260 ISBN13 9780349102269 Eliza Peabody is one of those dangerously blameless women who believe they have God in their pocket She is too enthusiastic she talks too much Her concern for the welfare of her wealthy south London neighbours even extends to ingenuous, well meaning notes of unsolicited advice under their doors.It is just such a one sided correspondence that heralds Eliza s undoing Did her letter have something to do with the woman s abrupt disappearance Why will no one else speak of her And why the watchful, pitying looks and embarrassment that now greet the still beautiful, bountiful Eliza on her errands of mercy By hilarious and disturbing stages we watch Eliza Peabody inch her way out onto a precarious suburban limb And still dark surprises lie in wait as gradually and bewitchingly the black comedy transforms itself into a psychological thriller.

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    About " Jane Gardam "

  • Jane Gardam

    Jane Mary Gardam OBE is a British author of children s and adult fiction She also reviews for the Spectator and the Telegraph, and writes for BBC radio She lives in Kent, Wimbledon and Yorkshire She has won numerous literary awards including the Whitbread Award, twice She is mother of Tim Gardam, Principal of St Anne s College, Oxford Jane has been awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime s contribution to the enjoyment of literature and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.Her first book for adults, Black Faces, White Faces 1975 , a collection of linked short stories about Jamaica, won both the David Higham Prize for Fiction and the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize Subsequent collections of short stories include The Pangs of Love and Other Stories 1983 , winner of the Katherine Mansfield Award Going into a Dark House 1994 , which was awarded the PEN Macmillan Silver Pen Award 1995 and Missing the Midnight Hauntings Grotesques 1997.Jane Gardam s first novel for adults, God on the Rocks 1978 , a coming of age novel set in the 1930s, was adapted for television in 1992 It won the Prix Baudelaire France in 1989 and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction Her other novels include The Queen of the Tambourine 1991 , a haunting tale about a woman s fascination with a mysterious stranger, which won the Whitbread Novel Award Faith Fox 1996 , a portrait of England in the 1990s and The Flight of the Maidens 2000 , set just after the Second World War, which narrates the story of three Yorkshire schoolgirls on the brink of university and adult life This book was adapted for BBC Radio 4 s Woman s Hour In 1999 Jane Gardam was awarded the Heywood Hill Literary Prize in recognition of a distinguished literary career.Her non fiction includes a book about the Yorkshire of her childhood in The Iron Coast 1994 , published with photographs by Peter Burton and Harland Walshaw.She also writes for children and young adults Her novel Bilgewater 1977 , originally written for children, has now been re classified as adult fiction She was awarded the Whitbread Children s Book Award for The Hollow Land 1981 and is the author of A Few Fair Days 1971 , a collection of short stories for children set on a Cumberland farm, and two novels for teenagers, A Long Way From Verona 1971 , which explores a wartime childhood in Yorkshire, and The Summer After the Funeral 1973 , a story about a loss of innocence after the death of a father.Jane Gardam is a member of PEN and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature She is married with three children and divides her time between East Kent and Yorkshire.


  • What is truly amazing about this book is how all the different pieces hold together! I would say that this is what characterizes Gardam’s books.We are given a complicated puzzle that is begging to be solved. For people who love solving puzzles or mysteries, it is a must read. When I started I was totally confused. On closing the book I marveled at how all the intricate details that had at first befuddled and exasperated me did make sense! By book’s end all is crystal clear. My first thought [...]

  • There is no way in hell I can write a fair review of this novel. I adore Jane Gardam. I am a FAN. I am totally prejudiced. She is one of the best writers on the planet. That said, this is 4 stars, not quite 5. Say 4.8 stars.Gardam may be best enjoyed by people who are no longer young. Her insights are continuous but tempered. She has enormous sympathy for the wounds that life inflicts but without an ounce of unbecoming sweetness. Gardam remains clear eyed, observant and sane. She has a perspecti [...]

  • Eliza Peabody is, it seems, a woman who is disintegrating. Through a series of letters written to Joan, a neighbour who appears to have run away to Bangladesh and makes no reply, she describes the breakdown of her marriage and her mental health. It is not always clear how reliable she is, but much is clarified towards the end of the book. There are many flashes of humour but my predomninant feeling was one of great sadness. Her life appears to be overshadowed by tragedy and it is only as the nov [...]

  • This is a novel of a woman in crisis, but, and it's a big but, it's difficult to identify exactly what the crisis is. Her life, her marriage, her neighborhood, all appear to be disintegrating before her eyes, behind her back and in her mind. So she writes letters. Welcome to the world of Eliza Peabody. And what a world it is. Full of pathos, farce and very funny vignettes. Don't miss this chance to experience someone else's crisis rather than live your own.Highly recommended (and just what I nee [...]

  • A fascinating book, told entirely in letters from the protagonist to a woman who had been a neighbour. But is Eliza sane, and how reliable a narrator is she?Jane Gardam is a wonderful writer, and I could hardly bear to put this book down because I wanted to work out just what was going on, and I cared about the various characters.

  • A modern epistolary novelI think that's how you say it. Eliza Peabody, opinionated, rich and confident writes a well meaning if insensitive letter to one of her neighbours and from then on her life with all its clear boundaries and comfortable middle class interests begins to disintegrate. Everything we see, everything we hear is through the eyes and ears of this, initially, maddening woman. Gardam challenges us as the book goes on to try to understand what is reality, what is imagination and wh [...]

  • Every now and then I have a craving to read something that is beautifully crafted, a book that is all lovely words. I heard about Jane Gardam on NPR(I had never heard of her) - she's a British author and she has won the Whitbread Award TWICE. (Nobody else has done that, so this author I had never heard of ought to be good, I thought)>And she is. The book is all letters written by Eliza to her neighbor Joan, who never responds to the letters. Eliza is witty, intelligent, weirdly insightful abo [...]

  • Oh the delight of a rollicking good novel! This funny and poignant story by Jane Gardam is a terrific read. She proves herself to be a versatile writer. Unlike the emotional restraint of the eponymous character in Old Filth, our heroine in The Queen of the Tambourine seems to have no emotional filters at all. The book starts out breathtakingly manic as Joan writes a highly familiar and opinionated letter to her neighbor, who, it turns out, she doesn't really know at all. The novel progresses, le [...]

  • Don't be put off by the boring synopsis: Well-to-do, middle-aged woman, slowly goes insane, alone, in her large sprawling estate. This is not an exciting book. It does, however, strike that perfect balance of bleakness and laugh-out-loud comedy that only British writers can so artfully execute. An absolutely delightful read.And come on, "Queen of the Tamborine": How brilliant is this title?!?

  • What an amazing book. I do not know where to begin.I loved it all.Midway through the book, I realized that not only was this the story of Eliza Peabody, but also a vehicle for some little vignettes or short stories of people surrounding Eliza, real or imagined.When I realized this, I thought to myself, "not fair, not fair. I just want to read about Eliza and never mind these other people and their stories." Yet I was drawn in, could not tear myself away from these stories, and wanted to know the [...]

  • Well Jane Gardam is generally one of my favourite authors and indeed I am just about to invest in her newly published bumper book of short stories, but I really struggled with this one. Great title, given to the novel's heroine (is that what she is) by Barry the patient she bonds with in her role as Hospice volunteer. The rest of the book appears to be a bit of a demented muddle related by a very unreliable narrator indeed: Eliza Peabody late of the British Empire has many of the traits of Garda [...]

  • I stayed with this for about 80 pages. I wanted to like it more -- it's an epistolary novel; it's funny; and it came recommended by one of my favorite reader/friends (Ted), who turned me on to Mrs. Caliban and other good books where the line between reality and otherworldness is blurred.So how did the book fall out of my favor? Well, number one, it's a one-sided epistolary novel: the protagonist narrator, a woman slowly losing her mind, writes all the letters to her former next-door neighbor, a [...]

  • This fascinating novel won the Whitbread award in 1991, but I missed it. The plot takes surprising twists so that I lay awake in the night thinking about what really happened to the narrator, a 50 year old woman whose career was that of British foreign service wife but now her marriage is ending. Don't miss the scene of a children's books author visiting NYC to meet with the editor of her first adult novel.

  • I found this one to be a terrific read as a (classic British) farce; it's only late in the book did it become apparent that the neighbors' concern wasn't so "misplaced" as it'd seemed. Deus-ex-machina(ish) ending wrapped things up a bit too neatly, but Gardam is a real pro at combining the characters, setting, and plot structure into a book I really didn't want to end.

  • I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Perhaps this is why I've been putting it off so long, because I thought it would be a dull nothingness. But it's not.It's set during the late 80s maybe?? Hard to say, but in London, and is told through letters written by Eliza Peabody, a 50-something wife of a civil servant/british diplomat; to a woman called Joan, who lived across the world, but has abandoned husband and children to travel the world. At the start Eliza is the kind [...]

  • Eliza Peabody, a fiftyish, childless wife, awakens one Christmas Day to learn that her marriage is kaput. Her husband of 30 years leaves her. She is in the dark: she has only bits and pieces of a puzzle. The picture does not come clear. Fuelled by her fantasies, Eliza descends into a sense of apartness that leads her further and further away from her true sense of realization . She is groping in the dark, looking for what? She has lost her way. Years earlier, she had suffered a miscarriage alone [...]

  • I swore this year I would keep better track of how I find the books I read. I can't remember what made me pick up Jane Gardam right now. I am pretty sure an author referenced her, but I may never remember the circumstances and the Internet seems unwilling to help me.I usually enjoy epistolary novels and so I was excited when I realized that The Queen of the Tambourine was letters written by Eliza to her friend Jane. However, after awhile the correspondence seemed a bit off. What exactly is happe [...]

  • I picked up this book because the cover recommended it for people who likedSylvia Plath andMuriel Sparks. I said to myself, I enjoyed The Bell Jar and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. SOLD! And if you combine those two books together, yeah, you kinda get this one. The mental breakdown plus the quirky older woman. Try to ignore the garish pink cover that makes it look like chick-lit. It's not. Although, I can see how some readers might be misled by the early quirkiness of the book as well. It is fu [...]

  • The book consists of a series of letters the narrator, Eliza, writes to her neighbor, Joan, who suddenly ups and leaves her family one day and goes abroad. Eliza's own husband leaves her the following Christmas, and she embarks on a downward spiral within her own mind (though the spiral had really begun long before then).This is one of those books that you have to read through to the end for things to add up and make sense. The first 20 pages or so were terribly amusing, then up until 10 pages b [...]

  • Written as a one-sided correspondence from middle-aged Eliza Peabody to an acquaintance named Joan, this novel is as quirky as its narrator, who, her neighbors fear, is going mad. I picked it up because I had enjoyed children’s and young adult novels by Jane Gardam, and at first I found Eliza’s eccentricities annoying (while at the same time admiring her creator’s skill at producing that reaction). After a while I was hooked on the mystery of distinguishing the real from the products of El [...]

  • The second of Gardam's novels that I have read, this traces the descent of a well bred middle age lady into madness after learning of her husband's infidelity with a childhood friend, to include the birth of a daughter. Though this is the rough plot line, we do not learn of the reason for her loss of sanity until the last couple pages, which makes the telling fun. Gardam tells this novel in the form of letters the protagonist writes to a non existant neighbor. Never coming right our and stating [...]

  • Jane Gardam has a real gift for dialogue and this is an odd observation when talking about an epistolary novel like 'The Queen of the Tambourine.' I'm not usually fond of the epistolary genre. It's gimmicky, too often cute, and, by its essence, restrictive in scope and tone. And yet, and yet. Gardam manages to break the bounds of the form and so we get a fair amount of action and dialogue as she recounts events to her supposed correspondent.I came to this novel after having read her most recent [...]

  • I heard about the author on NPR and was intrigued. I mooched a copy of this book from the UK to try her out. This is definitely a fun read. You start out with the impression that Eliza Peabody is odd, then you figure out that she is crazy and then you try to sort out what is real and what is not and possibly what sent her around the bend. Along the way you have contact all sorts of interesting characters in her neighborhood (real and imagined). This is funny and touching."But there's time yet. T [...]

  • First, I love epistolary fiction, though this certainly lends itself more to journal entries than letters. Second, how much like our favorite Hyacinth Bucket is Eliza in the beginning of this book? I couldn't help but picture Hyacinth and Richard in place of Eliza and her long suffering husband. However, Gardam quickly swerves from a British comedy of manners to the tale of a woman's slow descent into madness that's reminecent of another of my favorites, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wal [...]

  • If you read reviews of this book, many will describe it as touching, which it is, and funny, which it also is. The main character is off her nut, but not so much so that she doesn't know it at some level. She's finding a way to deal with loss and mourn a relationship gone wrong, among other things that "might have been." She admits everything to herself in the end, but the reader realizes what is real and what is pretend along with way. Because the book is told entirely in letters written by an [...]

  • This novel is told by the narrator, Eliza Peabody, who is 50 years old and lives in a suburb of London. She is a quite interesting person, and the story is told in the form of letters she writes to a former neighbor who suddenly left her husband to travel abroad and find herself. It becomes apparent that Eliza is struggling to cope with her own midlife issues, and the letters show increasing manic behavior and delusions. Her husband of many years leaves her, her housekeeper resigns, and she sudd [...]

  • From the reviews, I expected to be laughing out loud but it may be too based on English humor for me to fully appreciate. It had some funny things, and was definitely enjoyable and crazy, but I wouldn't call it "funny". Eliza is fantastic; she is smart and discerning, even if most of the time it is a crazy discernment. It's strange to be reading and wondering what is "real" in the book, which parts of her narrative are agreed upon by all characters involved. There was gorgeous prose and fascinat [...]

  • Engaging and quirky this epistolary novel is told by middle-aged Londoner Eliza, a woman with too little to occupy her who fills her time by penning acerbic letters of advice to her neighbour Joan: unsolicited of course. Eliza is self-righteous, pious and is in no doubt she is always in the right.The letters sardonically track the steady decline of Eliza into temporary madness. Though we soon learn Eliza is an extremely unreliable narrator, her character is a brilliantly comic study of manic del [...]

  • I thought I was going to like this book more than I did. It is a novel written as a series of letter. Eliza Peabody has gone a bit mad; she starts writing letters to her neighbor Joan, who has flown the coop, leaving behind her husband and children and dog and house. The letters chronicle the events in Eliza's life, and those in the neighborhood, until Eliza unwinds her psyche and puts it back together again. In the end, you learn that there is no Joan, and Eliza is sane once more. A strange tal [...]

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