Adult Onset – Anne-Marie MacDonald
This novel had a fabulous review in The Australian and I was super-keen to read it, but I could not find it anywhere. I ordered it from Dymocks (which took ages – should have just bought it as a Kindle) and while I was waiting I found a copy at the library (they also had to get it in for me). I have read Fall on Your Knees and I wasn’t that taken with it (it was prior to blogging…), but the the review in The Australian was so good I had to give it a go.
Here is the blurb …
Mary Rose MacKinnon is a successful author of YA fiction doing a tour of duty as stay-at-home mom while her partner, Hilary, takes a turn focusing on her career. She tries valiantly to balance the (mostly) solo parenting of two young children with the relentless needs of her aging parents. But amid the hilarities of full-on domesticity arises a sense of dread. Do others notice the dents in the expensive refrigerator? How long will it take Mary Rose to realize that the car alarm that has been going off all morning is hers, and how on earth did her sharpest pair of scissors wind up in her toddler’s hands?
As frustrations mount, she experiences a flare-up of forgotten symptoms of a childhood illness that compel her to rethink her own upbringing and family history. Over the course of one outwardly ordinary week, Mary Rose’s world threatens to unravel, and the specter of violence raises its head with dangerous implications for her and her children. With humor and unerring emotional accuracy, Adult Onset explores the pleasures and pressures of family bonds, powerful and yet so easily twisted and broken. Ann-Marie MacDonald has crafted a searing, terrifying, yet ultimately uplifting story.
This novel resonated for me – I know what it is like to be at home with two small children while your partner is away. The relentlessness of it all, the constant vigilance and the lack of sleep, which makes everything so much harder. Mary Rose or Mr (Mister) is full of inexplicable rage – although as the story unfolds the rage doesn’t seem so inexplicable – what did her mother do to her and how complicit was her father? Could she hurt her children of herself? This novel has some laugh out loud funny moments, but mostly it is about the past and coming to terms with past before repeating those mistakes. There is also a lovely sense of community – there is a real feel that her friends and partner are looking out for her.
This novel is for anyone who has ever struggled to get a toddler to put shoes on (and not the sparkly high heels), strap a resisting child into the stroller and get to the school pick up on time.
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The Buried Giant -Kazuo Ishiguro
Every year my daughters’ school has a book fair to raise money. I always like to buy something and I had been eyeing this off at various different stores (despite my decision to buy novels on my kindle to save space), so decided it would be the one.
I have read Remains of the Day (years ago) and loved the adaptation, but that’s my only Ishiguro experience.
Here’s the blurb …
An extraordinary new novel from the author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day.
“You’ve long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it’s time now to think on it anew. There’s a journey we must go on, and no more delay…”
The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years.
They expect to face many hazards – some strange and other – worldly – but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
This was a beautifully written book – slowly paced, mystical with a solid sense of place – I even learnt about Saxon castle construction! The part I liked the most was the relationship between Axl and Beatrice (it is unusual to have a relationship between elderly people portrayed beautifully. Part mystery, part fable, part knight’s take of daring deeds – there are ogres and dragons and a mist that makes people forget. It is a seemingly simple tale – two elderly people set out to visit their son in a village two days walk away. Along the way they meet two knights Wistan and Sir Gawain (yes of King Arthur fame) and some very sinister monks. They learn that the mist is actually the breath of a dragon and it is designed (by Merlin) to make people forget so that Saxons and Britons can live in peace. Sir Gawain is in fact the dragon’s protector and Wistan has come to kill the dragon. l am sure this novel has lots to say about contemporary society and the perils of forgetting, but I enjoyed it as a simple tale.
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