Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss

Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss – a classic case of me choosing a book for its cover. And how can you blame me? A pixilated photograph of sunbathing in the sixties, pops of turquoise AND testimonials from authors including Margot Livesey and Maggie Shipstead – irresistible!

Set in Pasadena, California in the fifties and sixties and told from the perspective of studious Rebecca Madden and her beautiful, reckless friend Alex, the story charts the girls’ dreams for lives beyond their mothers’ narrow expectations. The backdrop – women’s lib, the Vietnam War, the American cultural revolution. The blurb includes the enticing tidbit – “…one sweltering evening the summer before their last year of college…. a single act of betrayal changes everything.”

I wanted to like Autobiography of Us in the same way as I did Lisa Klaussman’s Tigers in Red Weather – for all its languid summer days, shared confidences and simmering resentments, however, it fell short. Continue reading

‘Eva Moves the Furniture’ by Margot Livesey

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.” Continue reading