Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
on 28 May 2011
I am so torn with regards to this book, that in a way I would like to write 2 reviews. In some ways I think the book is brilliant. In others it is frankly terrible and more than a little distasteful.
The book is extremely gripping and I was never bored while reading it, not for a second. The style is gripping and original, with a funny and original central voice. The author has a vivid attention to detail, painting scenes with simplistic but striking details. It is also very touching at times, especially towards the beginning.
However, I would take issue with the morals of the main character, and the implication that they are typical of working class mothers. In particular, she leaves her little boy alone in the house, to go to the pub where she subsequently cheats on her husband. This alone made me violently dislike her. That the author would like us to view her as innocent and naive is distasteful in my opinion. She supposedly cared for her husband and little boy, but in actual fact she didn't seem to care at all, she just needed them, which is a different thing. The author tried to make it seem less seedy by emphasising the fact that she likes sex with strangers if it's 'gentle'; but it is seedy nonetheless. She is even having sex with a stranger at the moment her husband and son are blown up. I don't expect fictional characters to be perfect - in fact it would be extremely annoying if they were - but I expect them to have at least some redeeming features if I am to care what happens to them. This main character is a neglectful mother and wife, she is needy and selfish and seemingly obsessed with sex, even while she is grieving.
I would also say the book is unrealistic in a number of ways. The extreme measures that are taken following the attack are ridiculous. The curphew, muslims losing their jobs, the banning of boats on the river - as events have shown, these measures would never be taken. The white, middle class author is also very condescending of the working class and especially so of muslims. The one muslim is a saint - which is patronising in the extreme.
So to sum up, this book is worth a read, but you really need to swallow your judgment and just go with it.