Tuesday, 16 December 2008


I read this book, which had been sitting on the shelf since approx. three weeks after it came out, after The Common Reader extolled its virtues. Actually the virtues of the whole trilogy

To start with I was a bit nonplussed, as the style is fairly undemanding, and there are a few bits that smelt a bit "creative writing" to me. (Sorry, but that's like my worst thing in the entire world.)

But my god, I got so into it that I sat on a chair by the boiler all day to keep warm and read the entire thing, when I was supposed to be making dinner for sixteen people. 

The things I loved: the complications of a properly dysfunctional family, laid out on paper. And like Tolstoy said, this unhappy family is unhappy in its own special way. Alcoholism haunts them, erratic behaviour, and that terrible inconsistency and unpredictability that is the hallmark of the drunk family. 

The fact is though, that amongst all this, you still manage to care about everybody, worry about everybody, and want to know what happens, which is practically amazing to me. And the fact that you sort of laugh at them, even in their tragedy. The motorbike riding through the campsite! The tragic glue-sniffing mum! The therapeutic shop-lifting! The disappearing bathroom pipework! In fact flicking back through I remember finding really quite a lot of it funny. It's a funny, laughable, terrible story. 

A book not like any other I've ever read. Though plenty enough like people I've known in real life. Well, thank you to The Common Reader, and also to my friend Ruth who lent me the book and has never asked for it back (eek). I loved TCR's point that for once the publisher's blurb is right - the characters really do haunt you: I keep thinking about them and wishing I could read more stories about them. Thoughtfully, Woodward wrote it as a trilogy. So hurray, I've got two more to go! 



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links - I am flattered that someone actually READS my reviews. I shall now read some or yours!


18 December 2008 at 14:45  
Blogger emmat said...

Ha ha at this rate i will be ploughing my way through Unger any minute now

18 December 2008 at 15:04  
Blogger Nadege said...

Thanks for this list Emmat, I have
six titles and can't wait to
get started.

22 March 2009 at 08:12  

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