logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: mainstream-fiction
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-10-01 12:49
"The Queen Of Bloody Everything" by Joanna Nadin - Highly Recommended
The Queen Of Bloody Everything - Joanna Nadin

"The Queen Of Bloody Everything" is an astonishingly good novel that tells the story of Dido Jones and her relationship with Edie, her unconventional mother.

 

Daughter of a flamboyant, convention-challenging. larger-than-life mother and absent any knowledge of her father, Dido has no greater desire from the age of six to thirteen than to be normal and in a "real" family. She satisfies this desire initially by adopting the family next door, weaving herself into their lives so thoroughly that her presence is taken for granted.

 

Starting with six-year-old Dido moving from a London squat to an Essex village in the exceptionally hot summer of 1976 and carrying on into Dido's adult years, "The Queen Of Bloody Everything" captures the language and attitudes of the times perfectly, displaying them to through the eyes of a child and the adult remembering being that child.

 

The storytelling is very accessible despite following a clever and complex structure. It starts in the present day, with Dido talking to her hospitalised mother, and reveals itself through a series of recollections of Dido's life in chronological order, interspersed with commentary in the here and now.

 

It is a riveting read, filled with strong, believable characters, realistic dialogue that is crammed with life and truth and scenes that capture moments of triumph, deep cringe-worthy embarrassment, abuse and loss and sometimes, a little bit of hope. 

 

Dido's understanding of herself and her mother is deeply shaped by her reading and the gap between the worlds she reads about and the life she's lived. In the beginning, the chapters have names that refer to children's books: "Heidi" or "Third Year At Mallory Towers". Later, the literary signposting of the chapters becomes more adult with titles like "The Bell Jar" or "Brighton Rock".  

 

My heart was captured by the characters but what really intoxicated me was Joanna Nadin's ability to help me to see the same thing from multiple points of view at the same time: how I felt then, how I feel now, what I failed to see then, what I wished I could do now and so on. She embraces the complexity of real life where questions have more than one answer and narratives overlay one another over time like layers of lacquer on our lives.

 

Both the ambition and the craft of this approach are shown on from the first page of the book. It starts:

Now

So how shall I begin? With Once upon a time, maybe. The tropes of fairy tale are here after all - a locked door, a widower, a wicked stepmother, or a twisted version of one at least. But those words are loaded, tied; they demand a happily ever after to close our story, and I'm not sure there is one, not yet.

 

Besides, Cinderella was never your scene: 'Don't  bank on a handsome prince, Dido,' you would sneer through the cigarette smoke that trailed permanently in your wake; that cloaked you, tracked you, like a cartoon cloud in Bugs Bunny. Like Pig-Pen's flies. 'If they bother to show up it'll be late, and then they'll only beg or borrow. Or worse.' And the twelve-year-old me would roll her eyes , like the girls in books did, and think, Those are your princes, Mother, not mine. And I'm not you.

 

But I am, aren't I? Though it's taken me four decades - half a lifetime - to admit it.

I fell in love with the tone of this writing from the first page and stayed faithful to it to the last.

 

"The Queen Of Bloody Everything" was intense, sometimes funny often painful but always felt like the truth to me. The ending is perhaps a little more hopeful than one finds in real life but even that felt like a benison of sorts to the characters and the reader.

 

I strongly recommend the audiobook version of "The Queen Of Bloody Everything". Kelly Hotten's narration is perfect. You can hear a sample of it below.

 

I liked the book so much that, having listened to it happily, I went out and bought I a hardback copy so I can keep it to hand.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/395802951" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-08-30 17:56
Reading progress update: I've read 31%.
The Queen Of Bloody Everything - Joanna Nadin

This is astonishingly good and the audiobook narrator is perfect. 

 

It's the story of Dido Jones. Daughter of an unconventional mother and absent any knowledge of her father, she has no greater desire from the age of six to thirteen, than to be normal and in a "real" family. Starting with six-year-old Dido moving from a London squat to an Essex village in the hot summer of 1976, it captures the language and attitudes of the times perfectly, displaying them to through the eyes of a child and the adult remembering being that child.

 

Now if only it counted towards a Halloween Bingo square.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-08-28 09:25
Reading progress update: I've read 2%. - I should stay silent but...
Normal People - Sally C. Rooney

...removing quotation marks around direct speech is not innovative or doing something daring with form. It's annoying and discourteous to the reader. 

 

I know that makes me sound like the grammar police but punctuation serves a purpose.

 

You'll be reminded of its purpose when you read a novel like this that ostentatiously leaves out quotation marks. Your reading slows down. You have to work harder to know not just who is speaking but whether anyone is speaking.

 

This is the writing equivalent of Brexit: I can see what it destroys but I don't see any benefits or any compelling reason to do it.

 

Rant over. I'll go back to the book now. Which is quite good by the way.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-08-08 00:42
"The Water Cure" by Sophie Mackintosh - abandoned after 25% - too worthy for me. I don't want my reading to be a chore.
The Water Cure - Sophie Mackintosh

I picked "The Water Cure" as one of four books to read from the 2018 Man Booker Longlist.  I liked the speculative fiction premise of young women, raised in isolation in a post-apocalyptic world, encountering men for the first time and having to reconsider what they think they know. 

 
"The Water Cure" got off to a slow and difficult start but was intriguing enough to keep me interested. I liked the rapid succession of short chapters, written from the point of view of each of the three sisters. This worked well in the audiobook version I read, where each sister get's her own narrator.
 
The we-only-know-this-island innocence of the sisters means that they take their exotic situation for granted and do little to explain it to the reader. 
 
It soon became clear that this was not going to be your typical post-apocalyptic dystopian novel. I was reminded more of  "The Tempest" if Miranda had had two sisters.
 
After the ten per cent mark, I started to get bored and a little angry. I got bored because, although many short chapters shot by, NOTHING HAPPENED in any of them except the young women sharing the details of the strange rituals (called therapies) that dominate their lives. I became angered by the abuse these young women had suffered.
 

I get the need to pace the book so that I can  FEEL the stifling effects on the sisters of isolation and ignorance combined with forced ritual intimacy, but enough already.

I began to feel as if I were  trapped in the middle of a front row at "Waiting For Godot" and I'm so embarrassed by what other people will think of me that I stay in my seat long after my boredom threatens to be terminal and I suspect Beckett of being a sadist with a wicked sense of humour.

 

I made it as far as the twenty-five percent mark because the voices of the sisters were  strong and distinct and because I could no more look away from the spectacle of the Bennet sisters transported to an island where they are subjected to abuse that they've educated to understand as sympathetic magic, than I could look away from a building about to be demolished by well-placed charges.

 

I'd hoped that the arrival of the men would change the pace but it didn't and I finally admitted to myself that I was reading this book because it was "worthy" rather than because I was getting anything out of it. I'd promised myself I wouldn't do that anymore so I abandoned "The Water Cure" at twenty-five per cent mark.

 

It may win the Mann  Booker prize but it didn't make a place for itself in my imagination.

Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of the book.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/447441624" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

 

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-07-27 19:08
Reading progress update: I've read 15%.: I'm growing impatient now
The Water Cure - Sophie Mackintosh

"The Water Cure" is becoming a bit of a tease.

 

 

I get the need to pace the book so that I can  FEEL the stifling effects of isolation and ignorance combined with forced ritual intimacy, but enough already.

 

I'm beginning to feel like I'm trapped in the middle of a front row at "Waiting For Godot" and I'm so embarrassed by what other people will think of me that I stay in my seat long after my boredom threatens to be terminal and I suspect Beckett of being a sadist with a wicked sense of humour.

 

I'm hanging on because the voices of the characters are strong and because I can no more look away from the spectacle of the Bennet sisters transported to an island where they are subjected to abuse that they've educated to understand as sympathetic magic, than I can look away from a building about to be demolished by well-placed charges. 

 

But I NEED SOMETHING TO HAPPEN.

 

One more hour. Then either the story moves on or I do.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?