Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Clothes on their Backs - Linda Grant


  • A novel with a strong focus on seeking to know and understand personal identity - which comes through both the clothes people choose to wear and their ties to their family and background. Vivien grows up by learning her place within her family and within its secrets.
  • The clothes theme ran throughout - a gentle but persistent theme can work very well, and tie the novel together as whole. In this it reminded me of the previous Booker nomination Sixty Lights (Gail Jones). Clothes are like fashionable archaeology, uncovering layers to discover what lies beneath - the clothes tell you as much, if not more, when they are vacated as when worn.
  • I enjoyed the parts about Benson Court as I have lived in a block of flats its fair share of eccentrics and lives overseen.
  • Collected quotes - ‘Without her, he filled himself up with the gas of his own thoughts and floated off into another dimension.’ & ‘A woman passed in an electric blue sequined gown and matching shoes whose sequins had been stuck on the white silk with glue and they fell away from her as she walked, leaving a trail like blue dandruff.’
  • Characters were individual, well drawn and warm. The story within a story worked well, we learn of the life of Sandor through his dictation to Vivien. I liked the 70’s London setting. At times the prose felt a little clunky, but when Grant was on form it flowed well.
  • My favourite Booker ’08 read so far - 7 out of 10 hangers

1 comment:

Stefanie said...

So I am waiting for the 8 or the 9 to appear. So far it doesn't seem like there have been any stellar books in the bunch.