A Time To Dance, No Time To Weep

by Rumer Godden

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My head is spinning after reading Rumer Godden’s impossibly full life – well part of her life. This book finishes in 1946 when RG (as I call her) was only 39.

I will certainly be looking for the other parts, including the ones written with her elder sister Jon Godden

Growing up in India (where RG had an injury more serious than first realised), a disastrous (for RG & her sisters) return to England, where the girls didn’t fit in, back to India, where in spite of injury RG ran a dance school, a broken engagement, an unhappy marriage to a wastrel… don’t you already want to go phew!

I love that RG didn’t go into too much detail about the books, even about her thought processes writing them. Too often biographies/memoirs give too much away & any unread novels are spoilt for this reader. A life so full and adventurous that taking her two daughters and her Pekinese dogs on long arduous treks barely mentions a few lines. Reader of several of her books (most notably The Greengage Summer & Kingfishers Catch Fire will find RG takes inspiration from her own life and puts it into her writing.

In parts RG is quite brutally frank – I wonder how the child of another friend felt about RG’s honest account of her feelings about this boy.

…but Dudi, whom I could not like, a fat little boy with long golden curls and a high whining voice…

The last part about the attempts to poison RG, her daughters & a friend(I did say – one action packed life!) are almost glossed over. These events lead to RG never being able to return to Kashmir and the loss of a friendship that clearly meant a lot to her.

This return to England, in spite of all the trauma, finishes on a hopeful note;

Now on the quay at Liverpool that miserable morning I had two things; rolled up, under my arm, was the Agra rug and, in my suitcase, a finished book, the manuscript of The River.

We could start over.

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