Towards Another Summer
is a brilliant novel by Janet Frame, the famous author from New Zealand.
Frame lived in England for a number of years, but always felt herself to be an outsider, there and everywhere. If she was an introvert (and it has been suggested by one researcher that she was a high functioning autistic), this novel is the perfect expression of her experience as a struggling writer, and also of her discomfort in company.
Wrote Frame: "She applied literary surgery to free her characters for their impelled dance or flight; she wrote the story of the weekend." The story is that Grace Cleave, a blocked writer, spends a weekend away from London in the north of England with a friendly couple, but she feels awkward throughout, and is miserable at having to appear for dinner and make small talk.
However, once "establishing herself as a migratory bird" in these people's home, "She found that she understood the characters in her novel. Her words flowed, she was excited, she could see everyone and everything."
The novel, written in 1963, isn't strictly autobiographical, but Frame chose not to have it published while she was alive because it was "too personal." When I read sentences like "Another encounter with people successfully concluded without screams or tears or too much confusion," I wanted to say to her, "Yes! I know what that feels like."
Frame's memoir, An Angel at My Table, was adapted into a movie by Jane Campion.
Copyright 2011 by Susan K. Perry