THIS is Bernardine Evaristo’s eighth novel and it was awarded the 2019 Booker prize (which she shared with Margaret Atwood).
The book ‘s stories are somehow connected through the 12 characters, who appear as a minor character in some stories and are the main character in an entire chapter.
What makes this book interesting is that the characters are not connected to each other due to a shared past, or that they have anything in common.
Their only connection is having had a relationship of sorts or having known each other briefly at some point of their lives. As each character gets their own chapter, we learn more about what made them they way they are.
To say that there are many layers to the stories and the characters would be an understatement. At times you feel you are learning more than you care for, but this is what makes this book so complex and so different.
Even Evaristo’s writing style is unique, with overlong sentences that are structured in such a way that it almost seems as though she is writing a poem. This style takes some getting used to but in no way does it turn you off from the story of these women.
It all starts with Amma, who reflects on her days of struggling in the theatre world, and now that she is enjoying success as a playwright, she wonders about her one-time best friend and partner Dominique.
The next chapter is about Amma’s daughter Yazz who is trying to find her own voice, followed by Dominique who in her quest to find herself, ended up in an abusive relationship.
The majority of the characters featured are black British women, and the topics explored are mostly feminism, sexuality and relationships. Politics and the generation gap is also touched upon on occasion.
Once you get used to the style, you will be riveted by the stories.