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A Calamity of Mannerings

‘It is a curse to be born a girl…’

Take a peek into the diary of Panth (never enquire as to her given name), a young woman knocking on the gilded door of adult life and high society. But kicking up one’s heels at the Cafe de Paris does not come easily to a girl navigating:

1. Poverty (even the genteel kind), thanks to her papa’s sad demise

2. A lack of any experience whatsoever with the opposite sex, of course not counting Freddy Spencer (and he wasn’t that sort of experience, anyhow) 3. Multiple sisters with ideas, a grandmother with opinions and one recalcitrant sheep

Panth knows there is more for her out in the world – it’s 1924, for goodness’ sake – and that could include swoonsome American with excellent teeth, Buck Buchanan. The question is – how in the name of Tatler is she to claim it?

A hilarious coming-of-age story for fans of I Capture the Castle and Bridgerton.

Published by UCLan

Cover illustration by Emma Block.

Joanna Nadin has such range, writing for the breadth of ages and tastes, always with humour, and hitting the spot every time. A CALAMITY OF MANNERINGS is her newest offering for teens/YA. I have to admit to having only dipped into it so far with other things having overtaken life lately, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a piece from her for the blog having loved everything of hers so far…

My 10 favourite coming-of-age YA novels

by Joanna Nadin

Inevitably, because of the age of the protagonists, so much of YA reads like a coming-of-age tale. Here, though, I’ve had to be pretty strict in order to get the number down to ten, with huge apologies for the myriad brilliant books I couldn’t fit in. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This is a book I come back to time and time again when I’m teaching dialogue and the importance of final lines in chapters, but more than that: when I want to feel joyful. It’s a celebration of friendship and love between two Mexican-American boys, which blossoms in a summer of utter boredom. 

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

The original YA novel – written for, about and, incredibly, by a teenager. I cry at this tale of class conflict in 1960s America every time. Stay gold, Ponyboy. 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

The book before the hugely successful film Dear Simon, which charts sixteen-year-old Simon’s crush on Blue, what happens when one of his emails gets into the wrong hands, and asks the excellent question ‘shouldn’t straight people have to come out too?’

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 

I could have picked any book by either author, but you get double bubble with this one, as well as the glorious Tiny Cooper, who is ‘very gay, and very proud’. The story of two boys with the same name whose lives are turned upside down when their paths cross. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman 

An opposites-attract love story with a difference, this is the brilliant graphic novel behind the brilliant TV series. A book that bursts with kindness and charm as overthinker and openly gay Charlie falls for apparently straight rugby player Nick.  

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Rightly a cult novel now, this is the eye-opening story of orphan Cameron, who is sent to a gay conversion centre when her strict aunt finds out she’s in a relationship with her best friend. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

You’ve watched the TV series (and if not, why not?); now read the novel. Awkward fifteen-year-old Isabel spends every summer with brothers Conrad and Jeremiah, who have never shown her any interest other than friendship. But this year, something flips.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Unfolding in a series of letters to an unnamed ‘friend’, this 1990s-set book follows Charlie as he navigates high school, falls for one of his best friends, and struggles to come to terms with the death of his aunt. Hard-hitting and poignant, this deals with suicide and sexual abuse, but manages to be celebratory as well. And extra kudos for getting Rocky Horror into a novel.

 Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann

One of only two books on this list that hasn’t yet made it onto the screen, but I have high hopes it will. I had the privilege of seeing this brilliant and hilarious novel at its conception, and have watched its protagonist – the bitter but witty Phoebe, who would rather marry herself than any of the boys at school – and its writer, Wibke, become incredible women. A queer love story that will have you howling with laughter as well as set your heart pinging. 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Not strictly YA (it was written for an adult audience), but it’s in my top five books ever, so I’m shoehorning it in. Also, it provided inspiration for A Calamity of Mannerings, with its historical setting and naïve but loveable narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, whose eccentric almost-aristocratic family have fallen on terribly hard times. 

Thank you Jo! And thank you Antonia for organising the piece for TeenLibrarian and a review copy for me.

A CALAMITY OF MANNERINGS is published this week!