Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mothernight, Sarah Stovell

What an incredible book. I think, once the literary community picks up on this one, it will really kick off and shoot it up the charts. On the one hand I am keen for that to happen, but on the other hand I feel quite proprietary about this one – it’s like making that perfect cup of tea or eating that long longed for bar of very expensive and heavenly chocolate. You want everyone to know about it, to share it, whilst at the same time you are loathe to do just that.

"I was beginning to realise that time didn't move forwards here. It just spun round and round, circling an old date, endlessly."

So says seventeen-year-old Olivia who spends the summer at the home of her boarding school friend, the brilliant, distant, lonely Leila. Their intense relationship circles Leila's painful past: a dreadful accident when she was five, and then the sudden death of her infant brother four years later. Olivia meets Leila's childhood friend Rosie, a disturbing, manipulative influence, and Katherine, Leila's step-mother: bitter, damaged and unforgiving. Now on the verge of adulthood, Leila decides to confront her past and her family, but the atmosphere of blame and recrimination hangs as heavy as the summer heat and will prove more powerful than she could have ever imagined.

The above is from the back of the book. What sets it apart from the rest of the pack, is how beautifully it is written. You can tell the author has a continuing love-affair with description and words. Having said that, I am keen to point out that her prose is not flowery. It is refined, reigned in, very much like the character Leila.

Reading Mothernight was an examination into how people act in the wake of tragedy – the deep waters are stirred by how close the real emotions are to the surface and yet we never let it show, for society’s sake. When we do show it, as Katherine does in very small snippets in the book, we are termed insane, unfit, a bit unhealthy to be around whereas it is quite normal human behaviour.

This is set to become a classic, in my view. A genuinely enjoyable book written in a fresh voice with interesting characters with a lot of personal motivation and drive.

And the fact that it looks pretty, does it no harm, at all!

1 comment:

Laura said...

I absolutely love this book, it's one of my all time favourites.
I know what you mean about wanting to share it and yet keep it as something more personal and rare. Despite my selfish thoughts though I do think more people should read this book. Sarah Stovell deserves a lot more praise than she recieved, I believe the book really wasn't marketed very well. I was very lucky as to stumble across it in a book store during the first week of it's release, however if I hadn't I still wouldn't have heard of it.