I haven’t read any of Charlotte Wood’s work and this is a good starting point, quite short and easy to read.
Here is the description from Charlotte Wood’s website …
A sharply observed 24-hour urban love story that follows Stephen Connolly – a character from Wood’s bestselling novel The Children – through one of the worst days of his life.
On this stiflingly hot December day, Stephen has decided it’s time to break up with his girlfriend Fiona. He’s 39, aimless and unfulfilled, but without a clue how to make his life better. All he has are his instincts – and they may be his downfall.
As he makes his way through the pitiless city and the hours of a single day, Stephen must fend off his demanding family, endure another shift of his dead-end job at the zoo (and an excruciating workplace team-building event), face up to Fiona’s aggressive ex-husband and the hysteria of a children’s birthday party that goes terribly wrong.
As an ordinary day develops into an existential crisis, Stephen begins to understand – perhaps too late – that love is not a trap, and only he can free himself.
Hilarious, tender and heartbreaking, Animal People is a portrait of urban life, a meditation on the conflicted nature of human-animal relationships, and a masterpiece of storytelling.
The novel invites readers to question the way we think about animals – what makes an ‘animal person’? What value do we, as a society, place on the lives of creatures? Do we brutalise our pets even as we love them? What’s wrong with anthropomorphism anyway? Filled with challenging ideas and shocks of recognition and revelation, Animal People shows a writer of great depth and compassion at work.
First, I haven’t read The Children and it doesn’t matter – this book stands on its own. I enjoyed it, although I have to say the main character, Stephen, is quite unattractive. This is a simple story full of ordinary events – a team building exercise (does anyone like these activities), a birthday party where the birthday girl completely loses the plot (the description of high spirits slipping into hysteria is spot on) – but ordinary events can be a catalyst for change. Will things change once Stephen’s boss (and friend) at the zoo moves onto a management position? What happens to Fiona and Stephen?
The setting is fabulous – I can feel the heat beating down and that terrible sweaty, soggy feeling when you have done something physical on a hot day.
If I ever make it through my current to be read pile, I will get hold of The Children.
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