Bodies of Light – Sarah Moss
I read Tidal Zone and loved it, so when I saw this at the library I was keen to read it.
Here is the blurb …
Bodies of Light is a deeply poignant tale of a psychologically tumultuous nineteenth century upbringing set in the atmospheric world of Pre-Raphaelitism and the early suffrage movement. Ally (older sister of May in Night Waking), is intelligent, studious and engaged in an eternal – and losing – battle to gain her mother’s approval and affection. Her mother, Elizabeth, is a religious zealot, keener on feeding the poor and saving prostitutes than on embracing the challenges of motherhood. Even when Ally wins a scholarship and is accepted as one of the first female students to read medicine in London, it still doesn’t seem good enough. The first in a two-book sequence, Bodies of Light will propel Sarah Moss into the upper echelons of British novelists. It is a triumphant piece of historical fiction and a profoundly moving master class in characterisation.
Completely different from Tidal Zone although there are similar concerns – medicine and motherhood. This one is historical fiction set in the late 19 the century – women are finally entering universities to study medicine, the industrial revolution is well underway, trains, factories, squalor, poverty and prostitution.
There is a fabulous review here – much better than I could write -and it has made me aware of more novels. I will definitely be tracking them down.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
There seemed to be a lot of talk about this one – although I found it quite hard to find. In the end my local book shop ordered it for me.
Here is the blurb …
Mrs. Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.
But as doors and mouths begin to open and as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…
This is told from the point of view of a child (Grace) whose innocence makes her an ‘unreliable narrator’. By that I mean we learn more about the people and actions around her than she does. This technique allows the novel to stay light and quirky (Jesus’s face on a drain pipe) while still covering some dark territory: alcoholism, murder (or at least an accidental death – manslaughter?), mental illness and serious physical illness.
Mrs Creasy has gone missing and Grace (and she drags Tilly along with her) are determined to get to the bottom of it. They decide to find god because he is every where, and looks after everyone, and knows how to separate the sheep from the goats and therefore must know the whereabouts of Mrs Creasy.
There is another mystery involving the older members of The Avenue, a fire, and a missing child.
This novel is about people living extraordinary ordinary lives – neighbours forced by proximity to be a community.
I am looking forward to reading her next book Three Things about Elsie
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon