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May 30, 2022


#Novel Grand Days

by N@ncy

Finish date: 20 May 2022
Genre: Novel
Rating: D-
Review: Grand Days (ISBN: 9780143790907)


Quick Scan:

  • Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse….
  • not very enthusiastic  about reading this book.
  • …but I promised Brona’s Books I would at least give it a chance.
  • I read the introduction, acknowledgements and list of characters.
  • The plot revolves around a young Australian diplomat Edith
  • …her job in Geneva and the creation of The League of Nations after WW I.


Good news:

  1. I finished the book….but don’t ask me how many times I wanted to stop!


Bad news:


  1. This book published in 1993  failed to impress me.
  2. The story based on the early days of the League of Nations
  3. and all that were involved in its inception had potential.
  4. Unfortunately Frank Moorhouse decided it need some “spice”.
  5. Sex sells books…you already know that…
  6. but this erotic romance and sexual aspects of love
  7. between Edith and a cross-dressing Englishman written 30 years ago
  8. is #CringeWorthy.



  • Style: the writing itself is repetitive, verbose, and excessive 
  • …670 tedious pages.
  • There are SO many great books to read….
  • …time make a cup of coffee and ….move on.



  • Here are some of my notes…..when I was still optimistic
  • …still hoping I’d found a book I could enjoy.
  • Stupid me.


Chapter 1:

  1. There was a lot to unpack in chapter one.
  2. Edith (26 yr) is the character to watch.
  3. She has created a list of “Ways” of Going  she must refine and practice.
  4. Ways of  Circumspection, All Doors, Compainable Confession, Cowardly Flight
  5. …just to name a few.
  6. These “Ways” felt very gimmicky and I do hope
  7. Moorhouse just uses them in the first chapter.
  8. I had to persevere through 12 pages of Edith trying to guess if her male
  9. companion on the train Paris–> Geneva was gay or not.
  10. #CringeWorthy writing.
  11. The chapter felt like a chess game   in which Edith and Ambrose
  12. start with flirtation….teasing….and end with seduction.
  13. The reader is waiting to see who will ….say: “Check mate”.
  14. Ambrose wants to titillate
  15. …..Edith wants to shock.
  16. But to learn if Edith will experience a change in character it is  important
  17. to learn what she is afraid of:
  18. — being seen as unworldly
  19. — not being considered equal to male companions/co-workers.
  20. We shall see…



Chapter 2: 


Internal dialoge:   What is Edith thinking…..but not always telling others.

  1. I have already made an enemy….behaved improperly. (pg 52)
  2. I have been made to look a fool… (pg 52)
  3. I can handle this crew, she thought, I am not fazed by these people. (pg 53)


Apologies /holds herself back many times

  1. She asked in hesitant voice, hoping she was not too forward… (pg 41)
  2. She felt then that she’d asserted enough for one day.
  3. She thought she’d better SHRINK back to being more charming and womanly… (pg 63)
  4. She regretted her boast as unwomanly, but moved quickly to undercut it (pg 65)
  5. She contemplated taking him (romantic evening)
  6. …but she held back her desire for further carnality (pg 69)


But….Edith is NOT A shrinking violet, not buy a long shot!

  1. She decided that she wanted things to unfold
  2. and shetakes the romantic leadership!
  3. She wanted to be experienced as a woman,
  4. …fully and finally, and this man would….do just nicely.
  5. Asks: “Will we dine together?” (pg 41)
  6. She leaned over and put her hand on Ambrose’s. (pg 62)
  7. Asks” “Perhaps we could do smth together at the week-end?” (pg 65)


I had to laugh at some of the euphemisms used:

  1. “…of the Greek way?” –  “…the way of Oscar Wilde?” (gay)
  2. “…they found their carnal way…”


Edith wants to be taken seriously, feel in control yet she sends out opposite signals!

  1. “..helpless laugh
  2.  “she admitted she hoped HE would guide her in her work
  3. “…I’m hear to learn. I am a bemused and lost colonial lass.”  (What?)


Chapter 3:  

  1. Getting more of an impression who Edith feels she is!
  2. Not a shrinking violet!
  3. Reads a book at a café table “…make it clear to anyone
  4. she is NOT an available woman.” (pg 75)
  5. When a man gazes at her thinking she was available
  6. (another cringeworthy euphemism), “part of the Traffic in Women”
  7. Edith’s internal dialogue reveals:
  8. “Perhaps she should experience that, going with
  9. …a man for money. Once” (78)


  1. I can’t help but feel Edith has an exaggerated sense of self-worth
  2. ...just full of herself!
  3. “Just appearing cosmopolitan was enough, for now.” (pg 78)
  4. “She felt  that her inner self was immensely empowered
  5. by her status as a League official…” (pg 78)
  6. Edith feels she is  NOT at the bottom of the food chain as an intern.
  7. She ponders about the messengers and Roneo operators….
  8. — “She would have to begin setting a mighty fine example.
  9. When she’d got “being international’ right, that is.” (pg 75)


  1. Finally there is some intrigue in the narrative.
  2. Stupidly Edith speaks to strangers at the café about the League
  3. …gives them her business card (name).
  4. Back at the office she get’s a proper dressing down from her superior.
  5. The ‘stranger’ sent her a gift: ladies handbag revolver!
  6. She shows it to Ambrose ….they argue…she must send it back!
  7. Edith feels a spurt of power having and firing a pistol….she’s going to keep it!
  8. I have a feeling this is NOT the ‘fine example’ she should be giving to others!
  9. Sounds like the start of trouble for our  ‘pretentious little Edith’ !
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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 2 2022

    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your time with Edith as much as I did first time around, but I suspected that the two of you were not going to be friends!

    I’ve only reread the first chapter so far, and I do delight in her naiveté disguised by a cosmopolitan air that does come across as being pretentious, but I think is a cover for her insecurity.

    I read years ago that Moorhouse loosely based Edith on his mother. They would have been a similar age, but Edith was able to get out of her small coastal town and put her fierce intellect to use in a way his mother could not. I believe that Moorhouse saw these books as his ‘mother books’ and that some therapy was involved!


    • Jun 2 2022

      I tried…just for you…to give this book a chance.
      Storylines are an author’s choice (ref: his mother’s background…news to me!) but the quality of the writing felt belaboured. There are more words and images (with an excess on the erotic…to titillate….) than you really need to make the point that Edith wants to feel liberated in her new life in Europe. Again….I’m trying to give Frank Moorhouse the respect he deserves b/c her has won more writing prizes than I ever will! But his writing just does not appeal to me.
      Just finished Primo Levi’s book The Periodic Table an when I compare the two authors…I see how good a book can be….
      This ends my adventure with Frank Moorhouse. I ‘m not linking my review to your master post…I want to give other readers an opportunity to express their opinions first.



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