I felt brave buying this book, fearing that it might be ‘worthy’ on the grounds of it having won the Booker Prize. That said, isn’t ‘worthy’ exactly what you should buy when your friend, who is also a reader, gifts you a $30 gift certificate for your favorite bookshop? Something that sits outside your norm, but that you quite fancy reading and when you aren’t spending your own money…… Also, I’m pretty sure that I must have read Booker winners in the past, it was just that in the moment of deciding, I couldn’t remember what!
Girl, Woman, Other tells the story of black women living in the United Kingdom. Each chapter offers a lovely insight into the lives of characters, some easy to read, others harder because of subject matter. Each story, or vignette, interlinks with others, gradually pulling together all the threads on the opening night of a play at London’s National Theater. The play has, naturally enough, been written by Amma, the very first character we meet in the book. Not only are Evaristo’s stories engaging and well written, but it’s fun to figuring out how they are interwoven, which of the stories intersect with which character, every one providing an ‘aha!’ type moment.
In reality Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo, was every bit as ‘worthy’ as I suspected, but in a way that is to be embraced rather than feared. This book is a totally brilliant 450 page read of pure fascination and interest. On finishing the novel I experienced real disappointment, of the best kind. How could something so different, fresh and engaging ever end? Why did she stop? I would bet good money that the BBC is just waiting in the wings to adapt this one!
(Just so you now, I went back and took a look at the Booker list and here’s what I discovered. Firstly, I was surprised at how few I have actually read! There are two books on the list that I can say with confidence that I enjoyed; Last Orders by Graham Swift, which provoked an enormous disagreement between myself and my dear friend Mrs D (of the good kind) and Possession by AS Byatt. The latter of these was pretty much an obsession of mine for many years after. In fact, looking back, I think that I was pretty insufferable on the merits of this book. I also think I may have read The Sea by John Banville, I just couldn’t swear to it. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which won alongside the subject of this blog, sits on my bedside table awaiting a turn.)