October 12

Someone by Alice McDermott

If you squint, you may see on the cover of this book to the left, a review by the Sunday Telegraph which simply says ‘A beautiful book’. I wondered about this right up to the last line, and it was then, only then, that I agreed. This is indeed a beautiful book.

It is about life of the unremarkable, but unforgettable.

It is simply a story about someone.

And that someone is Marie who we meet as a young Irish-American girl in the 1920s and follow through to old age. She greets us sitting on the stoop of her Brooklyn apartment building waiting for her father and we leave her, on an average day many decades later living her endearing, yet ordinary life. But of course, the extraordinary always exists within the ordinary, so inside these years is an enormous kaleidoscope of emotions and experiences.  Your heart breaks with hers, soars with hers and hardens at times too (her first love is a real ass-hat, just quietly).

Each of us, I think, will recognise the lovely monotony and predictibility of Marie’s life. I don’t want it to sound like it’s boring, it isn’t!  Just as our own lives aren’t, right? What makes this tale beautiful is the richness of humble, homegrown reality.

The story hopscotches to different times so you stay on your feet. But strangely, the way it’s told, is SO everyday, you don’t feel the need to race to it, you simply sit with it like you are having a cup of tea and catching up with folk you know well. It is familiar and comforting.

Having finished it last night, I know I will miss Marie. I will definitely miss her brother Gabe.

Ah, but such is life……ordinary or otherwise.  But that is just my 2 cents worth.