Hmmm so I am the Hungry Reader. The one who reads. The one who is constantly reading or wanting to read constantly. This blog is all about the books I have read, the ones that I am reading and gems that I plan to read in the future or whenever it arrives.
Author: Salley Vickers
Publisher: Viking, Penguin Random House UK
Genre: Literary Fiction
I think everyone should read this book. I think everyone should read it because we need reads such as these that are heartwarming, and don’t pretend to be intellectual to be lauded by all. At the same time, Salley Vickers has this unusual style that I cannot put my finger on. Her novels are simple and easy to read, contain separate universes within them, and manage to strike a chord by the end of it. So, in the sense that there is this strong build-up to events, lives, and decisions that impact each character.
Grandmothers as the title suggests is about three grandmothers, who are very different women and their relationship with the younger generation. There is Nan Appleby, recently divorced and fiercely independent – who shares a great relationship with her grandson Billy. We then have Blanche – a widow, who has done nothing but adored her grandchildren Harry and Kitty but is forbidden access to them by her son Dominic and his wife Tina. Minna Dyer is the third grandmother (not in the literal sense) who lives in a shepherd’s hut in the country and has developed a grandmotherly relationship with Rose Cooper. Reading binds the two, and that is what brought them close.
If you are expecting thrills or something to happen in this book, then it won’t. Grandmothers is all about relationships, intersecting lives, and the back stories of women who are otherwise only seen as most ordinary. Salley Vickers takes her own time to even unravel some plot lines. The book is very easy to read and makes for a great afternoon spent in the company of heartwarming prose and maybe even get you teary-eyed in some places.
I enjoyed this light well written novel from the author of Miss Garnet’s Angel (which I was totally underwhelmed by frankly) the characters are engaging and the pace of the novel is perfect. I have actually read four of Salley Vickers novels, the above as already stated I wasn’t fussed by really, I loved Mr Golightly’s Holiday and The Instances of Number Three, but hated (don’t why) The Other side of You.
I have in fact had this on my to be read pile for a while as I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not. It is certainly readable, and the character of Vi is quite engaging. I really felt for her younger self, as we flit back and forth over her life, and I appreciated the older, thoughtful Vi, and the delicacy with which she becomes involved with her fellow passengers on the cruise ship.
The novel moves between the present and the past, to when Vi as a young student meets and becomes friends with the poet Edwin. In the course of the novel we discover what it was that came between Vi and her great friend Edwin, the betrayl of her friend has stayed with Vi throughout the intervening years, and she is on a journey to put that right. Her journey to New York by cruise ship has her meet a host of characters and gradually become involved in their own stories. This is an engaging novel about recovery, showing us that maybe it is never too late.
What I love about Salley Vicker’s writing is that she creates characters that are all normal, everyday folk dealing with everyday, normal situations. She describes them and their experiences with such insight and compassion, I think it can be said that she truly understands the human heart. I have to say that I intensely disliked the young Violet, she is so passive and such a conspirator in her own abuse it made me want to slap her (I know this is actually a critical part of the story, but really it was almost unbearable). Thank god for her inner voice telling her all the things I wanted to tell her! But I really liked the older Violet, and loved watching her inner transformation unfold and the self understanding and acceptance that she develops. All in all it was a great read for me.