Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Book Review - Letters from an Unknown Woman
With her children evacuated and her husband at the front, Tory Pace is grudgingly sharing the family home with her irascible mother; working at the local gelatin factory—to help the war effort—and generally doing just about as well as could be expected in difficult times. Her quiet life is thrown into turmoil, however, when her prisoner-of-war husband, Donald, makes an outrageous demand for sexual gratification. He wants a dirty letter! Horrified, at first, that Donald is being turned into some sort of monster by the Nazis, Tory’s disgust gradually gives way to a sense of marital duty, and taking in the libraries, bookshops, public conveniences and barbers’ shops of South-East London, she begins a quest to master the language of carnal desire: a quest that takes a sudden and unexpected turn into far more dangerous territory. Beginning with an act of unintentional cannibalism, and flirting with a scheme to end world hunger by the use of protein pills, Letters from an Unknown Woman ranges widely across the Continent and yet always returns home: to family, to people, to relationships. Woodward offers a prescient examination of the ways in which we both nurture and consume each other in the face of adversity.
Gerard Woodward is the author of the Booker Prize finalist I’ll Go to Bed at Noon and A Curious Earth. He was born in London in 1961, and published several prize-winning collections of poetry before turning to fiction. He is a professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and lives in Bath, England.
My Take on the Book
This book was full of a fun comic tone that I was not expecting. As you are reading this book you are drawn in and presented with behaviors that sometimes can seem quite over the top. One of the things that I loved about this book though were the characters themselves. You are drawn into the book itself and into the lives of the characters and I know that I for one was amazed at how easily this book was to get into. The fluidity of the writing of this author and the overall tenor and plot of the book were engaging and was one that I have shared now with my wife and she has stated that she too thought this was a fun read. I think we will be sharing this book further form here as well.
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