Janice Galloway's inventive first novel is about the breakdown of a 27-year-old drama teacher named Joy Stone.
The problems of everyday living accumulate and begin to torture Joy, who blames her problems not on her work or on the accidental drowning of her illicit lover but on herself.
While painful and deeply serious, this audiobook holds great warmth and energy: it's the wit and irony found in moments of despair that prove to be Joy's salvation.
"A real achievement; its dialogue sparks and its voice is true. For Janice Galloway the trick is simply to keep writing." (Scotsman)
"An account from the inside of a mind cracking up...its writing is as taut as a bowstring. From brilliant title to closing injunction, it hums with intelligence, clarity, wit; and, its heroine's struggle for order and meaning seduces our minds, exposes how close we all of us are to insanity. Joy, as Galloway's heroine reluctantly lets us know that she's called, is simply that dangerous step or two nearer the edge." (Listener)
"Claustrophobic but extraordinary." (Sunday Times)
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Audio enhances this book
Enjoy is scarcely the word...
I'd say it's up there in my top ten or so.
There is really only one character, the central, much troubled narrator. Many others appear, but all are inflected by her. Despite the central character's depression (that's surely not a spoiler) there are great touches of cynicism which any well person would also come up with. Cynicism is sometimes the only suitable response to some behaviours, suggestions etc.
The content of the book is so dark that I feel 'enjoy' is not the word. Some scenes are wonderfully written and narrated such as the 'memorial service' scene - you could tell something unfortunate was building - so much more dramatic to be hinted at than stated.
...and for that you need your head to be above the water...
Siobhan Redmond was the perfect choice for this. Although the story is not exclusively Scottish, the character is and Redmond would have been my choice. If you know the book and are wondering how the 'marginalia' are handled, I think you'll be as impressed as I was. If you didn't know they were there, you'd still 'get' what was happening.
- Alan Coady