Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
A Portrait of London
on 31 January 2017
Just bought Hearts and Minds and am absolutely immersed. Touches on so much I am familiar with through work and patients that Amanda Craig has managed to represent with mind-blowing authenticity.
This is a world so real, not just in its finely observed details locations but the sights we see on the streets - traffic jams, hijab-wearing groups and women with buggies - to the dark crevices where trafficked Eastern European girls are stowed and abused, just a few floors beneath a young American woman working for a society magazine. The breadth of Craig's reach is immense and incisive even in passing, a S. African cab driver, an Asian anti-immigration doctor, the misuse of the NHS - the juggling and jostling of so many warring views that make one, albeit sometimes grudgingly, let in a shred of understanding of an an opposing view. And it's this maelstrom that is today's London, sweeping up the human detritus and elite, the whole range of colour and sound and silence that keeps the thoughts whirling throughout.
Amanda abandons the too-precious rules set by cautious publishers who demand a limited number of voices and gives us a cacophony; she ignores the commandment on a limited number of characters, plunging us instead into whole populations; a rough inner-city school , a car-wash consisting of of African, Asian, English workers, owners, clients, each one with a personality that comes through the briefest encounter; she disregards the edict of connecting and bringing together these many groups quickly to provide the the reader with easy connections and latch on to a central narrative. Rather, she creates a separate world with each primary character that keeps the reader immersed, taking her time, assured and in control, with a hint here, a link there, until the worlds begin to collide and coalesce. It is like living in London where we brush up against so many people and so many private dramas, know them, sympathise and move on. Yet somewhere in our subconscious, we neutralise the grief, the fear, the harshness enough so that life can continue to be lived functionally.I
t has made a lasting impact because its themes and people resonate so powerfully through my experience.