Today, it’s an exciting review! Today, it’s all about the recently Booker Prize shortlisted book, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. And I loved it – a lot…
I finished the last chapters of this just before the shortlist was being announced! And lo and behold, there it was – on the shortlist! I’m so glad it’s on the list – I think it’s a beautiful book, but first… what’s it about? Here’s the blurb:
Welcome to Newcastle, 1905. Ten-year-old Grace is an orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet.
Cornwall, 1953. Winsome is a young bride, recently arrived from Barbados, realising the man she married might be a fool.
London, 1980. Amma is the fierce queen of her squatters’ palace, ready to smash the patriarchy with a new kind of feminist theatre.
Oxford, 2008. Carole is rejecting her cultural background (Nigeria by way of Peckham) to blend in at her posh university.
Northumberland, 2017. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is visiting Hattie, who’s in her nineties, who used to be young and strong, who fights to remain independent, and who still misses Slim eery day.
Welcome to Britain and twelve very different people – mostly women, mostly black – who call it home. Teeming with life and crackling with energy, Girl, Woman, Other follows them across miles and down the years. With vivid originality, irrepressible wit and sly wisdom, Bernadine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country: ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.
Sounds good, right? I think it’s so hard to describe this book. But I’m going to give it a go. It’s told in five chapters but each chapter focuses on three characters in that chapter. Most of the time, the characters are linked with one and another, sometimes not but for me, it showed that while we all have our own individual story, we are all connected in one way – some shape or form.
Evaristo is a beautiful writer. I loved the way she wrote this book – it’s poetic, lyrical, full of originality, wisdom and wit. It’s also dynamic and like the synopsis says, bursting with energy. You will laugh one minute, tear up the next. It will open your eyes to different lives, different stories, different places, different cultures but all human. Evaristo explores a whole range of themes throughout the book. From family, feminism, privilege, racism, identity, motherhood, death, life itself, domestic abuse, and so much more. She seriously covers a lot of ground in the book and she doesn’t do it in a way that feels forced or there just for the sake of it. It is rooted in the story, in the writing, in the characters. I could feel the urgency and the passion of Evaristo wanting to write and share these stories.
I’m so glad that this is on the Booker Prize shortlist. I was completely enchanted by it – from the very first page. Evaristo’s writing is soaringly brilliant. It sings off the page and never misses a beat – always hitting the high notes. Like I’ve said: you will cry, laugh, be in awe of her writing but you will be completely lost in these stories. This, for me, was more than just reading a book. It was a reading experience. And one I know I’m not going to forget in a hurry. Like Amma, it feels as if Evaristo is creating and curating her own production of feminist theatre with twelve warriors.
As I’ve already mentioned, what I took from this book is that while the characters, just like all of us, have our own stories, we are all connected in some shape or form and Evaristo captures the sense of the human spirit throughout the book. This is a beautiful piece of work, a masterpiece even, and one I know will be for the history books and will stand the test of time.
And that ending… it got me. Right in the feels. And that’s because of the skill of Evaristo’s writing. I’m so glad that this is in the spotlight on the Booker Prize shortlist this year and I think has a good chance of winning. A true novel of the human spirit. Just glorious.
Have you read Girl, Woman, Other? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! Does it have your vote to win the Booker Prize this year?