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I believe Margaret is one of our finest authors who ought to be better valued. She writes about women, here connected through a hospital as visitor, doctor, patient or ex-patient. Itâs a good, old-fashioned book with well rounded characters and an understanding of what it must be like to be diagnosed with cancer and the effects of surgery. Itâs beautifully written, enormously involving, only perhaps a little inconclusive. I longed to know more.
Comparison: Anne Tyler, Maureen Duffy, Linda Grant.
Similar this month: None.
What do Mrs H., Rachel, Edwina, Ida, Sarah, Dot, Chrissie have in common? Theyâre all women, but theyâre fat, thin, old, young, professional, incompetent â€“ and appear as diverse as human nature can be. But they are all survivors. This compelling novel follows the ripples that go out into ordinary lives, womenâs lives in particular, which have been scarred and changed by a shared experience, all connected by the same hospital clinic in a small Northern town.
This is a novel about what it means to live in the shadow of disease and with its scars, whether mental and physical, looking back over oneâs shoulder while trying to go forward. You can trip up or, if youâre careful, you might make itâ€¦. At its heart is a strong, difficult but finally vulnerable, old woman. Mrs H. is generous and helpful to a (sometimes comical) fault, and lives alone with a secret that she tells no one but that finally explains everything. Her niece is a young doctor who canât take the strain, and who wants something different from life. Alongside them are the other walking wounded, getting on with their lives: Ida, once beautiful and now hiding her scars under layers of fat; tiny Dot who is stronger than she seems; Edwina, a mother who lives vicariously through others, even her wild daughter, Rachel, who finds almost too late what itâs like to soar above the crowd; and not to mention the men in their lives.
From the marvellous ambivalence of the title question, it leaves us with a whole lot more to consider about life and its infinite variety.
â€˜Few authors share Margaret Forsterâs extraordinary ability to transform the ordinary day-to-day activities of unremarkable people into compelling fiction.With brilliant and exquisite sensitivityâ Daily Mail
â€˜Forsterâs empathy and lack of sentimentality, as well as her quick ear and eye for the telling detail, command attention, while her skills as a storyteller ensure the readerâs avid curiosity about what happens nextâ Literary Review
â€˜Wonderfully comic and touchingâ Sunday Telegraph
'The kind of novel into which you plunge with satisfactionâ Sunday Times
Publication date: 02/02/2006
Format: Paperback (b Format)
Publication date: 06/01/2005
|Publication date:||2nd February 2006|
|Format:||Paperback (b Format)|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Relationship Stories,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster is the author of many successful and acclaimed novels, including Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Is There Anything You Want?, Keeping the World Away, and Over, bestselling memoirs (Hidden Lives and Precious Lives) and biographies. She died in February 2016.More About Margaret Forster