This is a lovely book with a distinctly fresh young voice. Her writing does remind me a bit of Arundhati Roy, though - unapologetically poetic in her use of words, there seems to be no holding back. There is something of the boldness and recklessness of the first novel in it (it is a first novel and a Whitbread prize winner at that). The language combined with the setting – the rough-hewn landscape of
The plot itself is less electrifying - about a girl Eve Green, now pregnant and 29, reminiscing about the 8 year old she once was, brought to rural Wales from Birmingham when her young mother’s heart gives up on her. It describes her initial years at an unfamiliarly harsh and beautiful place that she grows to love; her slow discovery of her mother’s grand love story, her own conception and her father’s desertion; her friendship with Billy, the village idiot, who knows more than anyone else she knows and who still is in love with her mother; her grandparents, their losses and their unflinching love of her; a school girl’s disappearance, Eve’s own role in it and how it changed her and the town, robbing it and her of innocence; her childish adoration of a man that grows into the love of her life; and her growing acceptance of life and the pain and the happiness it brings with it.
What stand out for me are some breathtakingly beautiful, and for a 27 year old writer, unusually wise and adult lines. Like ‘Influenza. It should have been a girl’s name – a sultry, hot-eyed girl from somewhere tropical, with flowers in her hair and swaying hips.’ Or, ‘..we all want our lovers to see us that way – unaware, natural, serene. We want to change their world with one glance, to stop their breath at the sight of us.’ Or her mother talking about seeing her father for the first time - ‘I don’t think beauty is neat anymore. It’s unordered. It’s unbrushed hair and a torn back pocket.’ Eve justifying her mother’s giving up everything for a man who ultimately betrays her – ‘He showed her seven months of what life should always feel like.’ About a mother whose daughter just went missing - ‘..ex-wife, ex-lover. Can you be an ex-parent at all?’ Lines that make you wish you had written them.