Monday, 31 December 2012

A Book to Read in Bleakest January

Posted by Daisy


This year, I ticked off two items on my travel bucket list (Poland and Italy), fell in and out of love with a lovely fella, wrote lots of features and interviewed some amazingly courageous people, sorted out a long-running family issue, made some lovely new friends, started this blog and made the decision to travel next year. Now, if I could just achieve my biggest goal - quitting smoking!
Martina Reilly's latest novel 'What If' follows the lives of three women in Ireland.

Deirdre is a clenched-arsed, cardigan-wearing middle-aged woman who has never resolved her childhood issues. Her house is full of nick-nacks and old photographs of herself and the One that Got Away. She scares her co-workers at the radio station where she smokes out the window of her office every morning, presents a drab gardening programme with failing listenership, and has few friends.
Deirdre’s mother, Lily, has just been admitted to a nursing home because her Alzheimer’s disease is slowly erasing her memory. She has important things to say to her almost-estranged daughter, but just can’t organise her thoughts - when she tries to speak, her words are unintelligible. Beautiful and glamorous in her youth, a series of mishaps made her life turn on a dime, all of which she records in her blue diary. She brings the diary with her, and communicates that she wants someone to read it aloud to herself and her daughter once a week.

Zoe is a carer at Lakelands Nursing Home. Her baby-daddy is a Fun-Bobby type, who heads off to Africa with a charity for a few months every year, leaving Zoe and her son in their dismal one-bedroom flat.
The character descriptions are marvellous. There is the enigmatic hunk with a sad secret, and a seemingly brash Jerry Springer-type producer who is recruited to spice up the Gardening show. But there is also Zoe’s brother who cries when he tells the family his news, and the Lidl-shopping, black-hair-dye loving pensioner who becomes Deirdre’s best friend.

All three women have regrets about the past. But through the diary readings (and other events) they all realise that it’s up to them to change their lives. In other words, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got’.  
Probably as good a New Year's Eve sentiment as any.
Here are a few links from around the web:
One of my favourite poems about just letting go
A short post  about staying home on NY's Eve and baking cookies
Happy New Year!x
Disclaimer: 'The Enchanted Doors' received a complimentary copy of 'What If' from Martina Reilly. This in no way affects the review in a positive or negative way. If we thought it would affect our judgement, we would rather simply buy the book.

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