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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.

Reviews

Frost in May is the unsurpassed novel of convent school life. This story of a clash between a determined young girl and an authoritarian regime is both perceptive and painfully emotional, convincing in every detail
Hermione Lee, Observer
Evelyn Waugh called [her] one of the very best novelists of the day - a title she still deserves
Carol Shields
Intense, troubling, semi-miraculous ... IT is not the only school story to be a classic; but I can think of no other that is a work of art
Elizabeth Bowen
A masterpiece. Beautifully written, it is a calm and factual record of the slow death of the soul
Selina Hastings
A small masterpiece, the compelling and passionate story of young girls at a repressive religious school, told with such lyricism and elegant economy, such subtle understanding
Tessa Hadley