Girl, Woman, Other: A book Review

Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a modern novel telling the stories of twelve women in the United Kingdom. They are predominantly black, female and many are in the LGBTQI community. Evaristo is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University in London which shows in the books structure and form. The lack of punctuation annoyed the heck out of me and I struggled with the first quarter of the book for this reason. After that it didn’t seem to worry me so much and I wondered if it lulled me into the headspace of the women whose stories we were told. It was certainly a world that I have had little, if any knowledge of.

To me it appeared as though a number of short stories had been placed together with some tenuous linking. My old brain struggled to remember how the characters fitted together and found myself having to revisit earlier parts of the book to work it out. For me there were too many characters in a book that had little storyline. The characters were well described and we knew their background, thoughts and sexual predilections but they were there for such a short time that it was hard for the reader to form a relationship with them. However, it did educate me and the difficulties of being black in a white society came through strongly and I think that is a good thing.

The book won the 2019 Booker Prize and in 2020 the British Book Award’s Author of the Year and the Indie Book Award for fiction. It is also currently nominated for awards in Australia and USA. It is No 1 on the UK top selling list and has been there for 23 weeks – a first for an author who is a woman of colour. Obviously it is worth reading.

I have often asked the question ” what is more important – the writing or the story?” For me this book answers that question – Most definitely the story. However, this book did keep me reading, the writing was good (minus punctuation) and I don’t regret having read it.

Would I recommend it: Probably but not with as much enthusiasm as with some of the other books I have reviewed. I did get a feel for a style of life outside my own and as we know – my thoughts are subjective – many others have loved this book. Nicola Sturgeon on twitter says of it “Beautifully interwoven stories of identity, race, womanhood, and the realities of modern Britain. The characters are so vivid, the writing is beautiful and it brims with humanity.” 

I’d love to know your thoughts if you read it or have already read it.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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8 Responses to Girl, Woman, Other: A book Review

  1. Nabeela says:

    Lovely review….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lifelessons says:

    I think the lack of punctuation would not work for me. It seems contrived. But not fair to say without reading a bit. I wonder if it would work better as an audible book? Thanks for your review and for standing by your own convictions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a very interesting book. It’s wonderful that an indie has won distinguished awards and such high praise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is. Many start off as Indie’s these days and get taken up by mainstream publishers when they show they are successful. I haven’t worked out why if it is successful you would change to a mainstream publisher apart from a psychological reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe better and more marketing, media exposure for the writer, possibly other options like film rights or international publication which might even require a translator. All of those are very difficult for indie authors to accomplish – you need the bigger network of a publishing house.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes I hadn’t thought of access to major papers and that is a big thing. Marketing I am not so sure about – they expect the author to sell the book although I guess they do set up the venues. I think you are right though – there are other advantages that are worth having if you can get them.

        Liked by 1 person

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