Friday, November 06, 2020

Book Beginnings: The Queen of the Tambourine

by Jane Gardam
(First published 1991)

Opening Lines
7 February
Dear Joan,

I do hope I know you well enough to say this.
I think you ought to try to forget about your leg.

About the Book
With prose that is vibrant and witty, The Queen of the Tambourine traces the emotional breakdown—and eventual restoration—of Eliza Peabody, a smart and wildly imaginative woman who has become unbearably isolated in her prosperous London neighborhood.

The letters Eliza writes to her neighbor, a woman whom she hardly knows, reveal her self-propelled descent into madness. Eliza must reach the depths of her downward spiral before she can once again find health and serenity.

This story of a woman’s confrontation with the realities of sanity will delight readers who enjoy the works of Anita Brookner, Sybille Bedford, Muriel Spark, and Sylvia Plath.
  (Publisher's back-of-book description)

Initial Thoughts
Forget about your leg? Well, all-righty. After that opening, I sort of had to go ahead with this one.

I've been wanting to read something by Jane Gardam for years now. (Well, why don't you just do it ?!?) Queen of the Tambourine won the Whitbread award for best novel of the year in 1991; it's been on my TBR list for many years, and so far I'm loving it. And after a couple of not-so-satisfying reads, that's a very welcome occurrence. 

Have a good weekend, everyone.
Stay safe. Stay calm. And happy reading!

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.



  1. This one does sound good, and including her in the same company as Muriel Spark and Sylvia Plath is high praise indeed. Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “FINDING MRS. FORD”

  2. Hi Joy,

    I was intrigued by those opening lines and I managed to find a good length extract on a site I regularly use, called Fantastic Fiction.

    I am assuming that this style is representative of the entire story and that being the case, I really don't think I could read a a complete book in this letter form, as at 240 pages I would definitely get a little bogged down by it.

    I do hope that having had it on your list for so long, that you continue to enjoy it to the end :)

    It was great to have you stop by Fiction Books today and I hope that you have a peaceful weekend :)

    Yvonne xx

  3. That opening does have me wondering--which is a good thing in this case because it makes me want to know what she's talking about. The description of The Queen of the Tambourine makes me want to read it even more. I hope you enjoy this one when you read it. Have a great weekend!

  4. I read one other book by this author...and really want to read more. Hope you're enjoying it!

  5. I'm so intrigued by that opening! Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a great weekend! :)

  6. That opening like of the Jane Gardam book made me smile:) I love Europa Editions and need to check Queen of the Tamborine out.

    I think I'd like to try a couple challenges for 2021 since we will still be home for a while it appears. Hope you have been doing well and, that December is a good month for you.


Welcome and thanks for leaving me a comment. I love to hear from visitors.

Also, please note that while I appreciate the thought, I don't play the blog awards game. I think you all deserve awards! But you might think about becoming a follower of my blog -- that would really be the best award.