I’m so pleased to have finally read this prize-winning powerhouse of a novel.
It tells the story of twelve women in Britain, each a novel in herself distilled into a chapter. In this respect, while every chapter could be a stand-alone tale of each woman’s experience and history, what makes the novel so striking is how these women interact, where their lives intertwine, and the intergenerational connections between them.
The characters, though thematically linked by their experience of being people of colour in Britain (bar one), each deals with her own unique struggles which vary but are all proportionally important in their lives, from grappling with sexual identity and explaining its nuances to grandparents stuck in their ways, to inadvertently joining an all-female cult in America or stressing about what the critics will say of a play’s opening night.
Not one of these characters is a stereotype, nor are they simply emblematic of a societal issue – though affected by these issues, they are all real, complex, contradictory people with hearts pumping through the veins of the sentences, whole histories taking shape on the pages.
It’s also funny, observant, poignant, racy, and so full of love and heart it could burst.
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