Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Cover of Girl, Woman, Other

I loved this. I mean, it won the Booker last year, so you don’t need me to tell you it’s good, but Booker prize winners aren’t always fabulous reads in my opinion, but this one definitely was.

Each chapter concentrates on the life of a different “Girl, Woman, Other” character and I’ve said endless times before that I don’t like short stories but do like this kind of linked story format, and this is one of the really good examples of the linked story format. The reason I never seem to enjoy short stories is because you get a glimpse of the characters and then they are gone and I’m left wondering where the rest of the book is. (Though, also, I probably haven’t read a short story in years, it might be time for me to try again.) Here you get a glimpse of each character through other people’s eyes and then they get fully fleshed out in their own chapter and you have more sympathy for each of them that way. I’m left feeling more like I’ve read a dozen novels than a single book.

As I was reading, and the later characters to have their stories told were getting further away from the initial ones, I did wonder how the author was going to finish it all up. And I was prepared to be a bit disappointed in the ending. And for a bit I was, my fears weren’t unfounded. But by the last page of the book I was happy and the impossibility of tying everything together kind of felt like a point in itself, there is no homogeneity.

And the writing is gorgeous. At the beginning I thought the sentence fragment thing would be a temporary thing, or, if it carried on, might get grating. But it carried on and I really enjoyed it. The disjointed nature of it, the way sentences could run on and change ideas, the way it reflected speech patterns, it became a very immersive technique.

The only thing I dislike is myself for putting it down for a while in the middle and as a result probably missing a few of the many connections between the characters. It started off feeling like a book I should be savouring in small doses, but turned into one I just wanted to wallow in and keep going indefinitely.

Finally, it’s always good to find an author with a back catalogue to explore, I will be diving in.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

Read on November 14, 2020

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