This beautiful fresh novel won my heart and I was so hoping it would make it from the Bailey’s long-list to the short-list–alas, it did not. It is a quirky, simple story with lots of amusing twists and turns, about some rather normal, slightly damaged people. But Elliott made me really care about them. Elliott’s writing style is clever and thought provoking but also funny and life affirming. She doesn’t write the story, she shapes and sculpts it, giving it rich texture and multiple angles, despite the light-hearted feel. There are whole parts of dialogue delivered in Twitter and text messages which was fun…I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done in a novel before.
“Miriam hasn’t left her house in three years, and cannot raise her voice above a whisper. But today she has had enough, and is finally ready to rejoin the outside world. Meanwhile, Ralph has made the mistake of opening a closet door, only to discover with a shock that his wife Sadie doesn’t love him, and never has. And so he decides to run away. Miriam and Ralph’s chance meeting in a wood during stormy weather marks the beginning of an amusing, restorative friendship, while Sadie takes a break from Twitter to embark on an intriguing adventure of her own. As their collective story unfolds, each of them seeks to better understand the objects of their affection, and their own hearts, timidly refusing to stand still and accept the chaos life throws at them.”
This is an amazing voyage into the question of what makes us who we are and what determines what we do? When we are puzzled by people’s behaviour are we quick to judge or do we take the time to understand why? It reminds me of Amanda Marshall’s song “Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.”