Three quick reviews – poor show, I know, but after my few weeks of crazy studying, my brain is having some quiet time (or as my eight-year-old said a few days ago, “Please stop filling my brain list with things I don’t need!” – not sure what a ‘brain list’ is but I like the sound of it).
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
I love the Royal Family. I’m unapologetic about it. Those latest pics of Prince George holding Princess Charlotte? Seriously, I just wanted to squeeze those chubby little legs. So obviously, The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (aka The Fug Girls) was right up my alley. The book is essentially Wills and Kate fanfiction, dressed up with Fug-Girls-funny. Cocks & Morgan know about the importance of things such heel-size on boots, jaunty angles on hats and the fabulousness of a good woolen coat. And they manage to simultaneously poke fun and treat such topics seriously, which is essentially the appeal of the book.
“Given the choice, I would’ve liked my first post-breakup conversation with Nick to have included really good hair – a little Shakespeare in Love, a little Gisele…”
Perhaps I know too many details about the Royal Family because there were parts of Nick and Rebecca’s story that were too ‘familiar’- the hobbies (painting and gardening) of Prince Richard (the Charles equivalent); “That seems so archaic,”I mused. “What if Edwin is gay?” (eek!); the ‘handed down’ engagement ring and so on. It was also a tad too long (coming in at 460+ pages), however, overlook those quibbles and enjoy the snappy dialogue and the healthy snark –
“‘So take it down about three point sizes, please, Garamond.” Clive was back and sliding drinks onto the scarred coffee table. “Gaz is short for ‘Garamond’, of the Fonty Garamonds,” he explained. “As in the actual font,” Joss piped up. “His grandfather invented it.”
“He’s as mad as pants. Won’t even read anything in sans serif,”Gaz said.’
Y by Marjorie Celona
Every so often there’s a news story about a baby being abandoned. Before I had my own babies, I would hear these stories and think “Oh no, that poor baby.” Since having children, I think “Oh no, that poor mother.” Because what must it take to leave your newborn on a doorstep?
Y by Marjorie Celona is the story of a baby girl left at the door of the YMCA. Two plot lines are interwoven – Shannon’s childhood and how her biological mother, Yula, came to give her up. It’s sad and although the plot may not be incredibly original, Celona creates some fine, memorable characters and doesn’t cave to a ‘happily-ever-after’ ending.
“It takes a while to understand this…but there’s enough room in a life for failure and loss.”
3/5 Depressing but real.
The Green Road by Anne Enright
I love a bit of Irish misery porn. In fact, the whole Angela’s-Ashes-frenzy was never just a phase for me – I revisit those stories about Irish mams and their bazillion children frequently. So naturally, Anne Enright’s latest, The Green Road, was always going to be a good choice (Because Enright, because Irish mam with wayward children).
What can I say about Enright that hasn’t already been said? Nothing. The Green Road is so beautifully written that I re-read some sentences over and over. Enright has the knack for showing rather than telling – by switching the point-of-view between the children and the mother of the Madigan family, she slowly reveals each character –
“Hanna got her goodnight beardie, which was a scrape of the stubble from her father’s cheek, as he turned, for a joke, from her kiss. Her father smelt of the day’s work: fresh air, diesel, hay, with the memory of cattle in there somewhere, and beyond that again, the memory of milk.”
There’s gentle humour as well, as demonstrated in the marvelous opening scene when the mother, Rosaleen, takes to her bed after learning that her eldest son, Dan, has decided to become a priest.
“This was not the first time their mother took the horizontal solution, as Dan liked to call it, but it was the longest that Hanna could remember.”
There’s honesty in Enright’s words and characters – parents (and children of ‘difficult’ parents) will see what’s at the core of the story (something around loving someone but not liking them terribly much at all).
I received my copies of The Royal We, Y and The Green Road from the publishers (Grand Central Publishing, Faber & Faber, and Random House UK respectively), via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.