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Getting Rid of Ian: A Memoir of Poison, Pills, And Mortal Sins Kindle Edition
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The author does a splendid job of writing from a child's perspective without it being precious; precocious, yes. I was in turn rooting for them to actually succeed in "getting rid of Ian," and hoping that they would fail. At times, I wanted to "off" him myself.
Penelope James is one of those writers that brings me along, keeps me turning the pages and makes me laugh too. This is a splendid book that deserves a large audience and a movie deal!
Hey, if Harry Potter could take on He Who Must Not Be Named, Pennie and Anne (Pennie's co-conspirator younger sister) can certainly get a movie with He Who Was Named Ian. Just sayin'.
It is this voice with its vivid sensory details and believability that swept me into this story and kept me turning the pages. Through the resilience and precociousness of this young girl and her sister, they plot to get rid of a man who they view as an intruder in their lives. And in showing how outrageous he was—denying them bathroom privileges, terrorizing them with threats and throwing them out at night-- I understood their desire to get rid their lives of him.
James, a skilled storyteller, injected humor into her heart-wrenching conditions and crafted enough tension to keep me reading well past my bedtime. The story plays out in cinematic detail, seamlessly flowing from one scene to the next. The angst and desperation in these young girls is palpable. They long for their biological father who lives across the ocean in England and, although they cling to happy memories of him from the past, he has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned them. These girls are survivors and we know they will be alright in the end.
This is a heart wrenching and captivating memoir that would make a suspenseful movie. I highly recommend it.
by Nirmala Moorthy
Author Penelope James has a rare gift—the ability to laugh at herself and at the problems of a difficult childhood. The end result is a story that should make the reader cry –if he could only stop laughing. She paints an array of eccentric, sometimes unbelievable, characters that in turn love, support, and bully two little girls taken away from their father to live in Mexico. Tita, a beautiful, fragile British-American-Mexican mother makes the most of a “Bad Leg” from a plane crash when she was 21, the reason for her having to “take care” of herself and not even hurry to get up in the morning. Their father, a retired British Naval Commander, is a dreamer, busy inventing catamarans to sail the Channel, and unable to support his family or even keep them in England. “Daddy thinks,” says the child Penelope. “It’s what he does. Most daddies go out to work but Daddy thinks instead. Thinking isn’t easy and there aren’t many people who can do it.” Penny’s first-person narration is rendered in a clear childish voice with no trace of blame or judgement. Her tongue-in-cheek humor imbues each character with magic, including “Granny in England”—completely upper-class British with a no-nonsense attitude towards her daughter-in-law, and “Granny in Mexico”—loving, undemanding, and from a family so conservative she “didn’t know the facts of life till three months after her wedding.” Even cameo appearances are unforgettable, like Mr. Tiltson who’s drinking tea on an English beach while a newly-invented catamaran is sinking into the sea. He finally agrees to go out and rescue Commander James and his passenger in a row boat “as soon as he’s finished his tea.”
And finally there’s Ian who forces Tita to get a divorce and marry him. Ian turns out to be an abusive villain who imposes rules and regulations on the sisters, frightens them with threats of physical punishment, restricts their time alone with their mother, and even deprives them of “bathroom privileges.” Life with Ian becomes impossible.
“Let’s pray for him to die,” says Penny. “But that’s a mortal sin!” says Anne. Well, they’d just have to go to confession when the deed was done and get absolved. And so they plot and plan and resort to prayers, sleeping pills, poisonous plants, and even voodoo. As Ian becomes more violent and paranoid tensions mount and the pace accelerates. Will the children succeed in killing him? Will they get caught, arrested, and pay the ultimate price? Can they ever break free from Ian?
The tension is enough to keep the reader glued to the book till the last page is turned.