Today, it’s a book review of a book of essays that I loved and adored. It’s the brilliant Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson.
I love a good collection of essays, I think they are my favourite genre of books to read and this is one that I have wanted to read for ages: Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson. What’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:
How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? How do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In the powerful and daring essays in Constellations Sinéad Gleeson does that very thing. All of life is within these pages, from birth to first love, pregnancy to motherhood, terrifying sickness, old age and loss to death itself. Throughout this wide-ranging collection she also turns her restless eye outwards delving into work, art and our very ways of seeing. In the tradition of some of our finest life writers, and yet still in her own spirited, generous voice, Sinéad takes us on a journey that is both uniquely personal and yet universal in its resonance. Here is the fierce joy and pain of being alive.
I’ve had this on my radar for ages when it was first published in hardback but for some reason it just skipped my mind but as it was published in paperback with this gorgeous orange cover (my favourite colour), I ordered a copy and read it in a matter of days as I just loved the writing of it. This is a collection of essays all about the body from sickness, health and motherhood and about being a woman but also a woman in Ireland. From birth, to first love, motherhood, sickness, getting older, death.
Sinéad Gleeson is a brilliant writer that tackles these hard subjects but gives them a light touch. Her writing is lyrical, poetic but full of truth and there’s a big spirit in her writing and voice that runs throughout the entire book. You can tell how important these subjects are to her and there is this sense of alertness, of urgency, throughout the book.
“I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles.”
Another part of the book I loved is how she also delved into different writers and artists to help explore her arguments even more – I especially loved how she incorporated Frida Kahlo and how she wrote about the body. My favourite essay is: “Our Mutual Friend” – god, that was such a heartbreaking but a hopeful read that I just adored reading. She also explores hair, blood, hospitals, and more. I also really enjoyed reading the letter to her daughter at the end of the novel it just showed me again the urgency and the fierce joy in Sinéad’s writing and voice.
I also really, really, really loved this quote on the age of twenty:
“There is something about being either side of twenty that urges us towards independence. To hold on to a sense of self, being defiantly the person you are hoping to be, but are not quite yet. At some point, everyone feels an invincibility in being alone, of not needing anyone.”
I really enjoyed reading this collection of essays and I’m so glad I finally read it as it was such a gorgeous, insightful, brilliant read that I adored. The book was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2020 which was brilliantly deserved. If you loved Notes To Self by Emilie Pine, you’d love this too. I can’t wait to read what she writes next.
Have you read Constellations? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!