Told through the eyes of an eighteen year old girl we learn about ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland and how it has an effect on a community who live there.
Winner of the Booker Prize 2018
I read this book as out first feminist book group pick of 2019. I must admit to struggling with it for a lot of the time, and if it hadn’t been a book group book I probably wouldn’t have finished, which would have been a real shame because I was really enjoying it by the end.
What made it tough? The writing really. It wasn’t bad writing, it just took a lot of dedication because it was so different to something I would normally read. It reminded me early on of the writing in a YA book which is told in a teenager’s voice, but it was less… organised (I suppose). It was a sort of stream of consciousness and had few, long, paragraphs. The story itself jumped around a lot, almost as if the narrator was having a conversation where things she was talking about reminded her of other things. In that way it was very authentic, but did make the storyline somewhat difficult to follow.
She discussed lots of the different characters in the story and none were given ‘real’ names (in fact we never even know her name). Some of these characters were really intriguing, I was especially interested in ‘Pill Girl’, and I loved the ‘wee sisters’.
One of the main things we saw was that it was a place steeped in tradition, and those who didn’t meet up to these standards were generally seen as ‘beyond the pale’ but generally accepted as people who were just a bit strange. Despite it being in ways a sad story there were funny bits, and I did find parts entertaining.
I won’t say much about the end because of spoilers, but it was definitely for me worth the effort, and I found I had gotten rather attached to the characters.
I’m not giving a rating for this one, because I feel so differently about different parts, but so long as you don’t mind working for it I would definitely recommend.
If you’re interested in joining our bookgroup for February we’re reading ‘I Love Dick’ by Chris Kraus and we meet at the Cafe Nero on Lower Temple Street, Birmingham, on the 13th at 7pm. Or you can join in via twitter.
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