The Chinese Garden
Feminist Press at CUNY, 2000 - 189 pages
The Bampfield School for Girls is housed in a crumbling country estate where "the physical standards are those of Dartmoor, the religion perverted, and the games mistress a sadist"-and where love between students is the ultimate crime. Into this world comes sixteen-year-old Rachel, a young woman who loves the round symmetries of Latin verse and the melancholy beauty of the Somerset countryside. Rachel is drawn into the conflict between two of the school's powerful figures. On one side is the formidable headmistress, who preaches the virtues of self-control while inviting teachers into her room at night. On the other side is Rachel's classmate Margaret, who openly despises Bampfield, urges Rachel to read The Well of Loneliness and sneaks out for trysts with her beautiful friend Rena. Unwittingly, Rachel becomes caught in a tangle of passions she does not fully understand, a pawn in a moral struggle to which all innocence will be lost.
"Thank-you Feminist Press for making this gem of a story available once again!" -- Lillian Faderman
"[Manning] has not only a fine ear for prose but a fine eye for character. --New York Times Book Review
"A very intelligent, sensitive, and compelling book." --Anthony Burgess
For course use in: lesbian literature, literature of education, 20th-century British literature, women's literature
Rosemary Manning 1911-1988 was the author of six novels, many of them set in her native West Country of England, and two volumes of autobiography.
Patricia Juliana Smith teaches English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is the author of Lesbian Panic: Homoeroticism in Modern British Women's Fiction.
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Chinese GardenUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Manning's 1962 novel features a burgeoning love between two young girls at a boarding school. Since this subject is far less taboo in most places than when it was first published, this book might find a far wider audience today. Read full review