Mothering Sunday is a 2016 novel by Graham Swift. I loved this book. The writing is wonderful, and the main character is someone you care about. I couldn't put it down, drawn further and further into her life.
from the book jacket:
A luminous, intensely moving tale that begins with a secret lovers' assignation in the spring of 1924, then unfolds to reveal the whole of a remarkable life.The Guardian calls it "a perfect small tragedy". The New York Times has a positive review and says, "it feels less self-consciously literary than Mr. Swift’s earlier novels, and while it has a haunting, ceremonious pace, it also possesses a new emotional intensity." The Washington Post calls it "an elegant reflection on the impulse to tell stories".
Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild has worked as a maid at an English country house since she was sixteen. For almost all of those years she has been the clandestine lover to Paul Sheringham, young heir of a neighboring house. The two now meet on an unseasonably warm March day -Mothering Sunday- a day that will change Jane's life forever.
As the narrative moves back and forth from 1924 to the end of the century, what we know and understand about Jane -about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees, remembers- expands with every vividly captured moment. Her story is one of profound self-discovery, and through her, Graham Swift has created an emotionally soaring, deeply affecting work of fiction.
Kirkus Reviews closes by calling it "a novel where nothing is as simple or obvious as it seems at first." The Independent describes it as "a Conradian homage to a well-spring of inspiration".
This book is on the NPR Best Books list.