Friday, 6 January 2017

Book Review: MOVING by Jenny Eclair


Title: Moving
Author: Jenny Eclair
Read: January 2017

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Edwina Spinner has lived in the same house for over fifty years. It used to be a busy, crowded family home but now Edwina lives alone and it has grown too big for her. She has decided to sell it.
The young estate agent who comes to value the house sees potential. Knock down a few walls, add a wet room. 'People like a project.' But as Edwina takes him from room to room, she is transported back to her old life as a young mother. Back to her first husband Ollie and their twins, James and Rowena. Back to lies and dark secrets and to a stepson whose name Edwina cannot even bear to speak aloud.

As Edwina's story unravels she is revealed as a complex and intriguing person. Not just the 'frail old lady' trapped in her dated house, but a woman who has lived an extraordinary life, full of love and tragedy. Why is she now so alone? What happened to Edwina's family all those years ago?

Moving - Jenny Eclair's fourth novel - reveals a writer at the height of her powers. Gripping, heart-breaking and laced with black humour, it is a novel of family secrets, shocking betrayals and most of all, of home.

My thoughts:

I accidentally stumbled across a review of Moving on Goodreads, decided it sounded just what I felt like reading at the time and purchased a copy of the audio version for my daily commute. And what a wonderful treat this book turned out to be! Having only known Jenny Eclair through her work as a comedienne, I had no idea that she is also an accomplished writer. There is nothing funny about Moving, though Eclair’s wit and astute observations of human behaviour shine through the pages and make her characters come to life.

Told through three different POV’s, Moving starts with the reminiscences of Edwina, an elderly woman moving through the rooms of her vast empty house and reliving different moments from the past, from when she was first married, to childbirth, the death of her first husband, the highs and lows of motherhood, a second marriage and tragedy. I loved the way each chapter revolved around the separate rooms of Edwina’s house, each relating to the characters who had inhabited them and their involvement in Edwina’s life – very clever! In the second part of the book the writing style changes dramatically as 19-year-old privileged drama student Fern takes over the narrative, connecting with Edwina’s life story in a way that is not instantly obvious. Of all the characters, I found Fern’s voice the most compelling, perhaps because Eclair so aptly describes the ecstasy and agony of first love. I was devastated when Fern’s part of the book ended without revealing ... well, you will need to read it to know what I mean, I don’t want to give any spoilers here. Taking over from Fern we have Lucas, who I initially found quite repulsive and difficult to relate to. There is always a risk of losing the reader’s interest when introducing such an unlikeable character, but I need not have feared, because it soon became evident that Lucas provided an important part of the story. With Eclair’s insight into all of life’s stages evident, she managed to gift even the unlikeable Lucas with a voice that kept me interested and soon drew me back into the storyline.

Thanks to Eclair’s keen understanding of the human psyche as we move through life – young love, marriage, motherhood and the insights and regrets of old age – Moving took me on an emotional rollercoaster that made me laugh and cry and shake with fury. Sometimes funny, often confronting and mostly heartbreaking, Moving tells the story of an ordinary family through the eyes of different people. To say it touched me deeply is an understatement – it haunted me long after I had finished reading it, and I missed the characters as if I had lost old friends (or foes). There is so much emotional baggage in this story, it is impossible not to relate to some of it, even for the most sheltered and righteous reader. Eclair writes with a black humour and a candidness that some may find confronting, but which I found refreshing and unique. I recommend Moving to anyone who enjoys an honest, thought provoking read about families and relationships and look forward to reading more from this talented writer.

Image result for 4.5 stars

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