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Frost in May by Antonia White

Frost in May (1933)

by Antonia White

Other authors: Elizabeth Bowen (Introduction)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Frost in May Quartet (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7411819,076 (3.9)257
  1. 20
    The Land of Spices by Kate O'Brien (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: Young girls at convent schools, trying to fit in.
  2. 00
    How Far Can You Go? by David Lodge (crittergirl)
    crittergirl: Novels with protagonists who struggle with Catholic doctrine
  3. 00
    Amandine by Marlena de Blasi (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Books about young girls growing up in convents
  4. 00
    The Ant Heap by Margit Kaffka (christiguc)

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» See also 257 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Young Nanda Grey has a pious nature and wants nothing more than to be a good Catholic girl, but the stifling, rigid atmosphere of her convent school, where creativity is frowned upon and "particular friendships" are strongly discouraged, threatens to destroy her sense of self. Although the novel drags in places, especially when the reader is subjected to Nanda's retreat notes on Catholic doctrine, I do want to read more by Antonia White. ( )
  akblanchard | Mar 3, 2019 |
This is the first Virago Modern Classic published. A nine-year old girl enters a convent for schooling - her father has recently converted to Catholicism and wants her to learn what it means to be a Catholic. It explains in a very detailed way what life was like in the convent, what she studied in class, the rhythm of the days, feast days, celebrations and retreats. Her relationships with her classmates and the nuns are explored. She embraces it but it leads to a bad ending when she leaves the convent at fourteen. ( )
  LisaMorr | Mar 2, 2017 |
This is a Virago Modern Classic, in fact the first book issued in that series. It is the story of a young girl coming of age in a convent school in the years just before World War I. To my thoroughly protestant and currently non-observant-of-anything outlook, this is the story of the systematic destruction of minds and souls in the name of "love" and obedience to an utterly perverse supreme being. Any expression of joy, kindness or love for fellow humans, appreciation of beauty, or even excellence is somehow suspect, and if taken too far, grounds for mortification. Our protagonist, Fernanda Grey, struggles with her desire to be a proper Catholic set against her terror that she may receive the "call" and be destined to take the veil, or worse, that she will miss the message, and be doomed to live life having rejected a vocation without realizing it. This reminds me of the terror of MY adolescence, born of precisely the same adult-fostered ignorance, that any number of perfectly innocent interactions with boys might result in having a baby. The most disturbing thing about this novel, I think, is that I'm not sure whether the author means us to feel what I feel while reading it, or whether she is presenting Nanda's story as some sort of cautionary tale. I suspect this will be made clearer in White's three "sequel" novels, and as cranky as this one made me, I am contrarily eager to read those too. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Aug 18, 2015 |
Frost in May is a school-book about a young girl moving into adolescence in a repressive Catholic convent school. In an interview White said that this book, her first, was her own story. While White writes well, I found the heavy dose of Roman Catholicism, the focus on breaking the girls' wills, and the enclosed, repressive atmosphere a bit much. I may have to go back and re-read The Secret Garden, Heidi or Eight Cousins as an antidote. (read in 2010) ( )
  janeajones | Jan 9, 2015 |
The novel starts with Nanda arriving at the Convent of the Five Wounds Catholic boarding school at nine-years of age. Her father had recently converted to Catholicism and she quickly picks up that this makes her a second class Catholic, compared to those who come from long-standing Catholic families. Nanda is a clever and creative young person who quite normally craves close friends. However, creativity, free will and young women talking in groups of only two are all frowned on at the Convent. Nanda continues to be very devout but has doubts when she can't quite reach the level of emotional engagement with Catholic traditions that others claim. Antonia White writes brilliantly and constantly makes fun of the Catholic faith, beliefs and dogma, as Nanda struggles hard to accept. The Nuns main aim is to break any free spirited child and achieve unquestioning acceptance of Catholicism and they take this to extremes. The novel is all set in the convent, apart from one section at home at Christmas, and has the same stifling and incense-rich atmosphere of the convent. An excellent and interesting read. ( )
  Tifi | Sep 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Few other novels of our time, whatever the materials they have dealt in, have exhibited the clarity of purpose, the niceness of emphasis, the neatness of detail displayed by Miss White in "Frost in May."
added by christiguc | editNew York Times, Louis Kronenberger (pay site) (Mar 4, 1934)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Antonia Whiteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bowen, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clec'h, Guy LeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hegewicz, EnriqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hōjō, FumioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansson, GundlaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juul, PiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meulen, Janneke van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rumler, IreneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To H.T. Hopkinson
First words
Nanda was on her way to the Convent of the Five Wounds.
Frost in May is a girls' school story. (Introduction)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
'Under her almost closed eyelids, she could see the pattern of the altar carpet ... The priest was opposite her now: she raised her head and shut her eyes tight.  She felt the wafer touch her tongue and waited for some extraordinary revelation."  Nanda Gray, the daughter of a Catholic convert, is nine when, in 1908, she goes to the Convent of the Five Wounds. Quick-witted, resilient and enthusiastic, she eagerly adapts to this closed world, learning rigid conformity and subjection to authority. Passionate friendships are the only deviation from her total obedience. Convent life - the smell of beeswax and incense; the petty cruelty of the nuns; the glamour and eccentricity of Nanda's friends - is perfectly captured. But this is much more than a school story; it is a lyrical account of the death of a soul.
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Nanda Grey, the daughter of a convert, is just nine years old when she enters the convent of Five Wounds. Quick-witted and eager to please she is quickly absorbed into the closed world, where authority, self-control and rigid conformity rule.

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