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Frost in May (Virago Modern Classics) by…
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Frost in May (Virago Modern Classics) (original 1933; edition 2006)

by Antonia White

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8151919,999 (3.9)262
Nanda Gray, the daughter of a Catholic convert, is nine when she is sent to the Convent of Five Wounds. Quick-witted, resilient and eager to please, she accepts this closed world where, with all the enthusiasm of the outsider, her desires and passions become only those the school permits. Her only deviation from total obedience is the passionate friendships she makes. Convent life is perfectly captured - the smell of beeswax and incense; the petty cruelties of the nuns; the eccentricities of Nanda's school friends.… (more)
Member:GirlsSentAway
Title:Frost in May (Virago Modern Classics)
Authors:Antonia White
Info:Virago UK (2006), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
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Frost in May by Antonia White (1933)

  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 262 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
A beautifully observed book, Frost in May is set in a Catholic girls' boarding school in England in the 1910s. Young Nanda Gray, the daughter of a recent convert to Catholicism, at once finds herself entranced by the romanticised religiosity of the nuns and her fellow students, and uneasy with the petty cruelties inflicted by the nuns that are designed to break down those girls who take pleasure in, show an aptitude for, or independently think about, well, pretty much anything.

As someone who was educated in a similar environment to Nanda, but who never had any faith to speak of, even as a child, the experience of reading Frost in May was at once alienating and queasily familiar. No contemporary YA dystopia comes close to the kind of hothouse, authoritarian, ritualised power games that play out here—and often for such small stakes. ( )
  siriaeve | May 18, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (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 authorsome 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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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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Nanda Gray, the daughter of a Catholic convert, is nine when she is sent to the Convent of Five Wounds. Quick-witted, resilient and eager to please, she accepts this closed world where, with all the enthusiasm of the outsider, her desires and passions become only those the school permits. Her only deviation from total obedience is the passionate friendships she makes. Convent life is perfectly captured - the smell of beeswax and incense; the petty cruelties of the nuns; the eccentricities of Nanda's school friends.

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'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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