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"I came out a little under done"
on 19 May 2012
Meg has a mother with the most extraordinary imagination.
In her childhood Meg believed her mother's flights of fantasy were true, but around age 11 disillusionment set in and instead Meg decided her mum was telling her lies. Meg turned to studying science with a passion, she craved reliable cold hard facts. Not stories of runner beans running around the kitchen or the spaghetti tree that grew in their window box after a neighbour dripped some of her dinner carelessly out of the window.
I really enjoyed Meg's mother Valerie's stories. They are inventive and funny. Now a grown up and a scientist Meg just wants to get to the bottom of why Valerie spins these yarns.
An important fact about Valerie is that she really loves cooking. The book is peppered with food references, indeed the first sentence is "I came out a little underdone". Meg believes her father was a French pastry chef.
Not wanting to upset her mother who is clearly very ill with cancer ( though totally in denial), Meg starts to investigate the truth of her childhood starting with the only clue she has, an address on the back of an old flier with an advert for a band playing at a pub in London.
At one stage I was getting irritated by the ridiculousness of the magical thinking. Can slugs really have soft souls? If you speak to them and explain you don't want them to eat your lettuces, will they leave them alone? I don't think so!
I put the book away and left it for days before I could face carrying on. I wanted Meg to confront her mother. She doesn't. She follows up on the clue that she has and soon the story took off and became much more interesting to me. I don't want to spoil the story so I will say no more on this.
There is a lot I liked and enjoyed but I did feel the book sagged a bit in the middle, partly because I couldn't believe in the boyfriend Mark. He remained shadowy unlike Meg and Valerie and other characters who appear. Nutmeg began life as a short story and think this shows a bit in the middle. I do think it works as a novel. As long as you can suspend disbelief and believe in fairies you will love this!