I think Tegan Bennett Daylight added the subtitle ‘Reading, Love and Death’ to her memoir/essay collection, The Details, just so that I’d buy it. Obviously I did. Immediately. What’s better than reading about reading, love and death? Nothing!
I used to go to gym with a woman whose family owned a funeral home. I asked her a million questions about it. That wasn’t me being weird, everyone asked her questions. I think we have a natural curiosity about the process of death. Oddly, another member of my gym group managed a brothel. We asked her a million questions as well. Clearly we were a very nosey group!
Anyway, take what you will from my anecdote – it was the only introduction I could come up with for Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Fun Home.Continue reading →
Trigger warning: miscarriage and death of a child.
One thing that I have observed in my counselling work is that the grief associated with the death of a child is unfathomable, and that it changes families (for generations) in a way that is also unfathomable.
Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is a deeply tragic story, which examines the yearning and grief experienced by Yejide and her husband, Akin.
I was not strong enough to love when I could lose again, so I held her loosely, with little hope, sure that somehow she too would manage to slip from my grasp.Continue reading →
I could make my review of Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest novel, Adults, all about gin, because the (23) gin-related scenes are glorious. For example –
‘OH MY GOD.’ ‘What?’ ‘GET ME A GIN, MOTHER.’ She gets me a gin. I am in the same position when she comes up: calcified. I take the gin without moving my face or indeed any part of myself.
‘Right,’ says my mother. ‘Do you want a gin?’ ‘Yes please,’ says Nicolette. My mother runs off. ‘Don’t let her make you a gin,’ I say. ‘You’ll never get out of bed again. She does all-inclusive-package-holiday measures.’
But a review of gin scenes probably won’t inform your decision about whether to read this book. Actually, knowing my blog readers, it might… Continue reading →
Where to start with this big story, plump with important themes, lush language, and rich history? No review that I will do of Tara June Winch’s novel, The Yield, will capture all the elements of this book, so instead I will focus on the two parts that drew me in – the experience of grief, and the meaning of words. Continue reading →
When I was sixteen, I visited my grandma one afternoon and, on arriving at her house, found her in tears. The last of the ‘Old Girls’ had died. The ‘Old Girls’ were her life-long friends – a group of women who had met during the War and stayed close for decades. They always referred to themselves as the ‘Old Girls’, even when they were young women. And so suddenly, my grandma was the last Old Girl. It was deeply shocking for me because, until that moment, I had never really thought about friends dying.
This is the subject of Charlotte Wood’s novel, The Weekend. Three friends in their seventies gather for a last weekend at the holiday home of their mutual friend, Sylvie, who has recently died. There’s former restaurateur Jude, organised and bossy; Wendy, an acclaimed intellectual, who continues to write; and beautiful, flighty Adele, a renowned actress whose work has dwindled to almost nothing. Over the course of the weekend, the dynamics of their relationships are revealed, and the absence of Sylvie felt.
This was something nobody talked about: how death could make you petty. And how you had to find a new arrangement among your friends, shuffling around the gap of the lost one, all of you suddenly mystified by how to be with one another.Continue reading →