Friday, 23 January 2009

Review – Clare MORRALL – “The Language of Others”

Publ: 2008 Sceptre
Pensby Library
ISBN: 978 0 340 89667 9
Genre: General Fiction; Psychology;
Pages: 376p
Found by Serendipity
Rating: ***** ****

What led you to pick up this book?
I’m not sure. A combination of the blurb – about relationships – and the cover. And yet neither would normally have sold the book to me. I’m glad they did though.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
The world is a puzzling and frightening place for Jessica. As a child she only finds contentment in playing the piano and wandering alone in the empty spaces of her family’s decrepit stately home. The book tells the absorbing story of a woman who spends much of her life feeling that she is out of step with the real world, until she discovers why. Related with humour and compassion, it offers a fresh, illuminating insight into what it means to be 'normal'. The ending amazed me and actually affects how one views the whole book – but I can’t say more without giving too much away.

What did you think of the characters?
Well-delineated and the key is really not in how people relate to each other but in how they fail to relate to each other. A masterly study in human inter-action and in something that, frustratingly, I cannot tell you about without spoiling it.

What did you think about the style?
Very readable. Not testing in any way as it flows easily despite hopping from one time frame to another throughout the book.

What did you like most about the book?
The way in which one could identify with certain characteristics of the various people and also see one’s family and friends in them.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.
It must have been effective (see my note above) though looking at it objectively it seems pretty ordinary.

Would I recommend it?
Very much so and there is a group of people for whom it should be essential reading. The only way to find out is to try it yourself.

Mary’s view of the world is through rose-coloured spectacles, because that’s how the world behaves with her. It’s more rosy in her presence.

CLARE MORRALL is a British author, born in Devon in 1952, who lives in Birmingham with her two daughters. A music teacher, she shot to fame when her first novel, ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003. Published by the tiny, Birmingham based publisher, Tindal Street Press, after enduring years of rejections by publishers and agents for previous novels, Clare’s story was a publishing fairytale come true. ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ has sold over 100,000 copies since first publication in February 2003 and foreign rights have been sold in nine countries including Germany, US and Italy.

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