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Making Space Paperback – 20 Apr 2017
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'A beautifully assured debut that is part love story, part psychological slow-burner. A clever and graceful tale that weaves its way through the cracks of our everyday perceptions to skillfully explore complex issues around illness, grief and longing. Tierney's characters sing with a dark, sharp, tender realness. Combining exquisite descriptions with scalpel-sharp human insights, this is a book to languish in, and emerge from deeply moved. It marks the arrival of an elegant and thrilling new voice in literary fiction.' --Emma Jane Unsworth
'If, for example, you're expecting this to be a conventional romance - boy meets girl and rescues her from her dreary man-less existence - you'd be very wrong. While Miriam may initially feel she needs a love life, she quickly realises self worth should be reliant on nobody - nor thing - but herself.'--Manchester Confidential
'It's a brilliant debut, compelling, darkly funny, exquisitely written, and tenderly candid about the realities of being a single woman in her late twenties living in a big city.' --Nicola Mostyn
'This is a simply riveting and unfailingly entertaining read that showcases her genuine flair for a narrative driven fiction populated by deftly crafted and memorable characters. "Making Space" will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.' --Midwest Book Review
'There's a nice ambiguousness, or ambivalence, here: hope edged with realism. --Book Munch
About the Author
Sarah Tierney is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, and her short story, Five Miles Out, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.
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Erik sees himself as a collector, which is interesting because seeing his house through Miriam’s eyes we know very quickly that he is a hoarder, that he cannot bear to let things go. Once I knew this about him I was intrigued – I wanted to know if he genuinely felt he was collecting things or if he knew he had a problem but just didn’t want to face up to it. It made me feel claustrophobic as Miriam explores Erik’s home for the first time – all those books, magazines and cuttings stacked up everywhere with barely any room to walk through. It also made me remember how I have been in the past. I grew up with a family member who collected newspapers and books – it was confined to one room and as a child it felt like a treasure trove but as an adult it was stifling. My own ‘collecting tendencies’ have been a bit much in the past but as I always spread my books through the house, and so it never seemed so bad.
‘The answer wasn’t rational, I knew that. He collected because he had to. It was a compulsion not a choice.’
Miriam seems to be the polar opposite of Erik – she is renting a tiny flat with a friend and has ended up with the smallest room and yet her friend still manages to make her feel like she’s a guest in her own home. Miriam decides on a whim to pack up nearly all of her belongings and take them to the charity shop with barely a backwards glance. Her reason was that she felt like it.
‘I didn’t want what they stood for anymore […]. I was just sick of it. I was sick of myself’.
There is a real poignancy running throughout this novel and I loved that. I soon came to feel that Erik’s hoarding was likely a reaction to what his childhood had been like, and that made me understand him more. Later we find out that it’s more complex than that and that just adds to the depth of his character. Then there are moments when Miriam has so few clothes left that she’s having to put the washing machine on most days, and when her flatmate comments about the electric bill Miriam laughingly retorts to her that ‘You have a boyfriend. I have my washing’ before realising how tragic that sounds. Miriam is lonely, she is trying to get by in life unable to find the thing that will make her happy. Miriam and Erik are each protecting themselves by either having too much stuff around them, or too little – it feels like comfort and safety but in reality it’s dragging you down when you’re either imprisoned by your belongings or untethered by your lack of things. They both need to find some middle ground.
The further you get into this book the more the title begins to gain meaning. Miriam is making space in her room but actually it’s more about her trying to find herself and her place in the world. Clearing out all of her belongings leads her to things that she might otherwise have not done but it also makes her feel cast adrift and a bit lost for a while. Erik needs to make space in his home for his daughter but his problem is more to do with him needing space in his head. Miriam’s need to get back a postcard that her father had sent her when she was little, and what she does with it towards the end of the book was so moving to me. Her realisation about her need for space, but also her need to let people into her life makes for a really fascinating read. As space is made, or in some cases un-made, by each of these characters, the more they become able to allow people and opportunities into their lives.
This is such a beautiful novel about how we can’t help but bring the pain of our past into the present. It’s about finding your place in the world in whatever way you can. It’s about learning to be okay with who you are. It’s about letting go of the endings and making space for new beginnings.
When I bought this book I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t realise just how moving the book would be, and how much it would come to hold a place in my heart. I loved every minute that I spent reading Making Space and it’s one of my favourite books of this year so far.
I highly recommend making space on your bookcase for Making Space!
We read this story from the perspective of Miriam, a young woman whose life isn't where she thought or hoped it would be at 29.
After a bad day at her temp job, Miriam throws out almost all of her sparse worldly goods so she can build a new identity. Trouble is, she doesn't know who she wants to be.
The following Monday, she visits the house of Erik for work - a 45 year old man who is just starting to admit to himself that he has a hoarding problem. They're on the opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to their living habits, but they're both lost souls who need a connection, in whatever form that might take.
You need to read this book for yourself to find out the story and pick up on the nuances, but the parts that I enjoyed the most were the conflicts between the two characters who desperately need to connect but can't understand how the other half lives, so to speak.
The beautiful writing is what lifts this story up to a 5 star review for me, it's so hopeful and moving. I'm not normally one for the mushy stuff but this was too wonderful to pass up on.
The novel is set in Manchester’s Whalley Range, and centres around Miriam, a 29 year old who has come to something of an impasse in her life. Sharing a flat with a friend who is dating a guy she’s slept with, applying for temping jobs she doesn’t want after a Media degree that went nowhere, Miriam wants to move on somehow, wants a different sort of life from the one she’s seemingly stuck with:
This is a unique book - with beautiful prose, droll humour, and a keen eye for the realities of life as a single woman in her late twenties.
I absolutely loved it. More from Sarah Tierney please!
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