Ready for a grown-up fairytale? Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey is the perfect bedtime story.
The blurb for Eva Moves the Furniture reads as a ghost story –
“On the morning of Eva McEwen’s birth, six magpies congregate in the apple tree outside the window – a bad omen, according to Scottish legend. That night, Eva’s mother dies, leaving her to be raised by her aunt and heartsick father in their small Scottish town. As a child, Eva is often visited by two companions – a woman and a girl – invisible to everyone else save her. As she grows, their intentions become increasingly unclear: Do they wish to protect or harm her?”
I really liked Livesey’s neat descriptions, spare but warm all in the same sentence –
“The midwife who attended my mother sat by the bed, knitting a cardigan… The soft clicking of needles accompanied my mother’s struggles. The midwife turned two sleeves, the earth turned once, and my mother’s cries ceasd with almost shocking completeness. “There, Barbara,” said the midwife, her forearms streaked with blood, “I knew you could do it. You have a lovely girl.”
The mother/ daughter relationship is at the heart of this novel, made all the more interesting by the fact that Eva never knew her mother (whom she refers to by her first name, Barbara)-
“…I caught sight of my belly, strange yet familiar in its largeness. Beneath my palm the baby moved. Such a specific feeling, both part of me and apart. A foot or elbow jutted out, and it came to me that, just as my baby pressed against me, so had I once pressed against Barbara. She too had felt the drumming of my heels against the thin skin of her belly, swimming towards daybreak. I used to think she had never known me. On the contrary, she had known me intimately.”
Isn’t that lovely? It perfectly captures the intimacies of pregnancy.
The novel also brings into focus the role of adopted mothers. Eva is cared by for her aunt, Lily, who is a mother in every sense of the word apart from biological. She cares for Eva, has hopes and dreams for her, is a little miffed by some of her actions (whose mother hasn’t done the feather-light guilt trip on them before?!) and takes charge when needed.
“‘There aren’t any giants,’ Lily repeated. “Do you want to take out my earrings?” She bent down so I could reach her ears. While I fumbled the fine gold wires out of the mysterious holes, the giant tiptoed away.”
If you enjoyed The Time Traveller’s Wife, I suspect you’ll also like Eva Moves the Furniture. Pair this story with the perfect cheese souflee – as light and as difficult to conceive as Eva’s ‘companions’.
3/5 Although it almost deserves a four given that Livesey’s heartfelt ending made me bawl like a baby!