The Servants’ Quarters

A Story

by Lynn Freed
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I heard Lynn Freed read from this work at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference last summer. I could rattle off a list of terms that have long since become cliches, alas, such as "pitch perfect," "vintage Freed," and so forth but what would it matter? Suffice to say that it was absolutely beautifully uttered fiction told by a tremendously gifted story-teller. Lynn Freed relates her stories as though she cannot quite believe the sheer, beautiful madness of her own characters; if you have never heard her read, you are missing a rare treat. Like her other novels, this promises to be a refreshingly crisp, bracing story, told by a pro. In an era of self-consciously veganesque stories, what a delight to have one with real meat on its bones; muscles and marrow included.

I thoroughly enjoyed this excerpt and would like to read more. The story was rich with interesting characters and descriptions. There was a wackiness to the family and neighbors without going too far. Really great writing.

Cressida fascinates me, a real girl with understandable feelings, enduring what is for her an impossible life that no one wants to explain. It smacks of the children-don't-need-to-know mentality of the era. I am now a devotee of Lynn Freed's writings.

I want to know more! This is very engaging beginning, where you set up a lot of mysteries that remain unsolved: What's the problem with Miranda? Is something going on between Mr. Harding and Mrs. Arbuthnot? And what's wrong with Edgar? I'm afraid the Germans are going to come over the wall any minute. I hope to find out.

This is obviously a small piece of a larger canvas, and one rich in character and detail. The vision of a post-war world through the eyes of children is an excellent POV. The strangeness of Mr.Harding and the silence of the comatose father are a powerful counterpoint to Cressida's restless and pessimistic nature.