Posted on | August 21, 2011 | 20 Comments
What an amazing name for a book! That was the first thought that came to me when I saw this book at Waterstones. The gist sounded promising enough, and you’ve got to give a book with such a title a chance. And so I did.
The initial chapters are indeed promising. However, as you keep turning the pages, it just keeps going downhill. And then you force yourself to finish it, and are left wondering…. why?!
Or well, that was my experience. The book spans about forty years, from 1968 when Elly (the narrator) was born in Essex to 9/11 and beyond. We meet Elly’s brother, Joe; her parents; her lesbian aunt; Jenny Penny, her best friend and finally, Charlie – Joe’s lover. And so the drama starts.
By the age of ten, Elly’s been sexually abused (or it was so indicated, but never outright said), she’s seen her brother in a gay relationship, her father’s sister talks openly of her sexuality, her father nearing a mental breakdown, moved to Cornwall far away from her best friend, and… well, she’s still perfectly fine with everything and carries on as though everything’s hunky dory.
So many of the themes needed to be explored in greater detail, but… nothing. It was shallow and the characters one-dimensional. Even the brother-sister relationship, which started so encouragingly just… faded into nothing. The rabbit that her brother gifted her on one of her birthdays, and they decided to call god (much to her teacher’s chagrin and horror) was a redeeming part of the book, specially when Elly believed he was anthropomorphic. However, even that storyline just drifted into nothing.
Yet, so many events were covered: the death of Princess Diana, the assassination of Lennon, the assassination of JFK, 9/11, cancer, a friend in prison, a Getty-like kidnapping. So much, and yet so little. So much promise, and yet such little delivery.
I was honestly disappointed after finishing this book. At only 330 odd pages, it’s not really a chunkster or anything, but after about p280, I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. Didn’t care about the characters, didn’t want to care about them either. I forced myself to finish the book, and well… I did.
Have you read this book? Am I judging it way too harshly?