Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

"Born Free" by Laura Hird (Canongate, 2001)

A slice of frantic Edinburgh life that for all I know rings true. It bounces along entertainingly - more character-centred than plot-driven - and compares well with other slices of modern life I've read.

Of particular interest is how all the main characters are involved. There's a chapter from Joni's first-person viewpoint (daughter), then chapters by Vic (father) then Jake (son) then Angie (mother) - a cycle that's repeated 7 times before Joni and Vic finish with a chapter each. Character-wise there's barely a false note though there's some "poetic license" in the voices - the vocabulary's wider than it "should" be (words like "indented" are unexpected) and phrases like "The grass is starting to grab [the fallen headstone] into the ground" sound unrealistic. I didn't expect the happy ending - after a counselling meeting the couple have their first sex for years (impotence as well as dislike) - though it's a fragile happiness: "As I lean down to kiss away the fresh tears, the only resistance is in her eyes. I pretend not to notice. This isn't going to take long anyway."

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