Book Talk: A Perfect Explanation & My Shitty Twenties
It's Indieathon and in case you've missed what that means, we're reading lots of indie books! My reading pace has slowed a little bit now we're back into work time, but over the first weekend I had myself a little bit of a Salt-athon and finished A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther (which comes out on Friday) and My Shitty Twenties by Emily Morris.
One of my favourite things about Salt Publishing is that their books are all so different yet all equally fantastic. A Perfect Explanationis a fictionalised account of the very real event of a woman selling her son to her sister for £500. The story is told from the perspective of Enid, the mother, and her sister Joan and jumps between the '20s and the '60s with Enid in a nursing home looking back on the events of her life. I found this format very compelling as it allowed us to see how one action can affect so many people. The relationships between the characters were so real and there was so much underlying tension running through the book that sometimes it was hard to read without skipping ahead to find out what happened!
The thing that I liked most about A Perfect Explanation is that it allows us as readers to see a character that we don't often see in fiction without them being painted entirely as the villain. Enid is a woman who is definitely not cut out for motherhood - she doesn't particularly enjoy being around her children but the feeling that she should is inescapable and at several points throughout the story she seems to make an attempt to want to be a mother. The fact that she suffers from depression is frustratingly obvious throughout the book as she continues to be misdiagnosed by doctors and receive absolutely no support, as would probably have been the case at this period in history, but which is hard to read from today's standpoint. She is presented in a really nuanced way, as is her sister Joan, heir to their mothers' fortune and would-be mother of Enid's youngest son.
The story is a fascinating look at the dynamics of a wealthy family where everyone is vying for the inheritance and where social scandal, infidelity and mental health issues abound.
Indie Challenge Bingo Squares: a debut, book that defies genre (because it's based on a real event, and one that took place in the authors' own family..)
My Shitty Twentiesby Emily Morris is a book I've been looking forward to reading since I won it in the Authors for Grenfell auction. It's a memoir about Emily's discovery that she was pregnant while still at university, and her experience being a single mother (the father of her son wasn't interested in being involved). It's a really fast paced memoir and a brilliant story of how great women are. Also, it's funny.
Basically it follows Emily from finding out she's pregnant all the way through her pregnancy, having to taking time out from university and find new jobs, then the birth of her son and how she balances childcare and returning to university, running a successful travel agent business from her bedroom and eventually travelling across the world to Australia with a toddler - having travelled much shorter distances with small children, I can't imagine being able to do this! My Shitty Twenties is a testament to Emily Morris's (and women everywhere's) ability to deal with almost any situation and I defy anyone to finish this book and not agree.