A Woman of Experience
by Kay Gregory
Write Choice Readers’ Award Finalist
On the day Janey Blackman finishes school she discovers that her life is a lie: the man her mother married is not her father. Stunned and betrayed, Janey leaves home to build a different life.
In 1950s London, Janey takes a room in a boarding house, acquires a job and falls head-over-heels for gallery owner David Foley, who is engaged to Posy Bantley-Brown, her old school-nemesis.
After David and Posy marry, Janey learns that her birth-father finally wants to meet her. Now Janey wonders if Frank Blackman, the man who married her mother knowing she carried another man’s child, is a truer father.
Praise for A Woman of Experience
“With wit, keen insight and an eye for detail, Gregory draws the reader into the world of her courageous, yet vulnerable heroine. Quite simply… unforgettable.”
“[A Woman of Experience is] a delightful story about growing up, learning about yourself and discovering who the people you have known for so long really are… Ms. Gregory has a sure hand with the details of London in the 50’s and stylistically the book is a joy to read. The relationship between Jane and David is beautifully described, and the book has the perfect ending … Give yourself a treat and buy A Woman of Experience.”
— Timeless Tales Book Reviews
1954 – 1956
“Lord dismiss us with they blessing,
Thanks for mercies past receive.”
The moment I opened my mouth to join the off-key chorus, Posy Bantley-Brown put her hand behind my back and unfastened the top button on my ugly, grey uniform skirt.
“Beast!” I delivered a sharp kick to Posy’s shin as I scrabbled to refasten the button. Behind us someone giggled. From the scuffed stage at the front of the gym, Miss Barclay delivered her power glower.
Thanks heaven the one great mercy which wasn’t ‘past receive,’ was that after today I would never have to set eyes on Posy B-B’s saucer-smug face again. Certainly not first thing on a perfectly good summer morning.
I twisted to the right to get a better view of her permed blonde head uplifted in virtuous piety. Her face was a bit redder than usual, but otherwise she looked innocent as an angel. Phony little cat. Her lips were moving – those rosebud lips that had opened so often to deliver hurtful barbs at my expense–but she wasn’t actually singing. I watched the fat curls dancing on her short white neck, and thought of my mother’s half-hearted strictures about charity tolerance and compassion.
All very well for Mother. She hadn’t had to put up with Posy day in and day out for twelve years. Or almost twelve years. There had been time off in the long summer holidays, of course, when I had fantasized about the autumn term beginning with the miraculous news that the Bantley-Brown had succumbed to some mysterious and fatal holiday virus with a long name. Needless to say, she never succumbed to anything more useful than the occasional day off school to attend Ascot, Wimbledon or something county to do with cricket.
“Pardon all their faults confessing;
Time that’s lost may all retrieve …”
Oh no. I wasn’t going to pardon all Posy’s faults. God might. That was up to Him. I said a quick, guilty prayer just in case He was paying atention, then eased my conscience with the reflection that the plump little snob wasn’t likely to confess her faults anyway. She didn’t think she had any. I saw her fingers edge towards my waist again, and grabbed them before they could do any damage. “Leave me alone,” I hissed.
Miss Barclay heard me and frowned. Posy smiled sweetly and raised her voice in song.Around us, the chorus reached a crescendo of enthusiasm never achieved when a dispirited “Lord Behold Us,” was sung at the start of each year.
“Sanctify our every pleasure;
Pure and blameless may it be; …”
Pure and blameless? I closed my mouth in mid-verse. Did I want my every pleasure sanctified? Distracted, I stopped brooding about Posy and thought about life as I hoped to live it once I escaped the strict clutches of Chantersley Private School for Girls…