Pictures of Lily by Matthew Yorke

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Pictures of Lily by Matthew Yorke

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Pictures of Lily tells the journey undertaken by teenage Georgia Myers, in tracking down her biological parents. It is a much anticipated, modish and elegantly penned new novel from the uber-cool Matthew Yorke.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Corsair
ISBN: 978-1849014120

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As soon as Georgia Myers turns eighteen, she is going to find her biological parents. And she has lots of questions for them too; like where else might she have lived if she had not been given up and does she have any brothers and sisters? Mostly, however, Georgia just wants to ask why?. Why was she given up for adoption? Why her?

'I need to find my real parents',
'I know you do.'
…'But what happens if I can't find them? What happens if I look and they're not there?'
'Then you'll have to come to terms with that, Georgie. If that's how it turns out then that's exactly how it should be.'
'Was it as it should be that I was given away?'
…'Yes, Georgia, it was. At that moment in time it was exactly the right thing.'
'How can you know that?'
'Because it happened.'…

Georgia is a fairly ordinary teenager and like her peers all over the world the passions in her life run hot. Take music, for instance. Music is, and has always been, Georgia's constant companion. These beats with their colliding basslines coupled with the static buzz from the various pills and powders - like pink dolphin - that find their way into her body, are Georgia's refuge and she comes to think of the dub venues of the North of England as her home.

Oh her eighteenth birthday and with her birth file in her possession Georgia learns that, at birth, she was named Lily Rose. On the thirty sixth day of her life, Lily Rose became Georgia Myers when she was given up for adoption to Roger and Diane Myers, the people she has called mum and dad for the whole of her life; the people who named her Georgia. But the file is thin and she had hoped for more.

And so Georgia embarks upon the first leg of a journey of discovery that will both lift and break her heart and sate and starve the hunger to know that lately fills her every waking moment. Will the path that Georgia has chosen to follow conclude in the discovery of her lineage or will it simply pose more questions than it can ever answer?

Pictures of Lily is the much anticipated new novel from Matthew Yorke, a previous winner of the John Llewllyn Rhys prize, and I have to tell you from the get-go, it has been worth the wait. If this book does not end up on a shortlist, I will put it between two slices of bread and eat it (well, I won't, because I will want to read it again, but you get the gist).

You see, in its telling, this tale is inhabited by Georgia/Lily's teenage voice; perfectly female and consummately knowing. She tells us (for truly, you cannot see a trace of the middle-aged man who wrote this book) about her life, how she lives, where she goes, what drugs she takes and why, who her friends are and who and what she loves. It's almost an oxymoron to say that you can see how lightly the author touches the page, given the subtlety involved and the care and attention he has lavished on the characters to make them real and alive.

I need to be succinct here, because this is one of those books that must be judged from within and not from without; suffice to say that Yorke's novel is a beautiful tale about a girl who you will fall in love with - she will make your heart and throat ache. The weft of the story somehow combines innate simplicity with inordinate complexity and I am at a loss as to explain to you how Yorke does it without causing confusion and misunderstanding. But to say that he merely succeeds would be to understate the many layered and magical piece of theatre that is the end result.

For further reading, I'd most definitely like to recommend Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe as Pictures of Lily put me very much in mind of this book, throughout my reading of it. You should also take a look at The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant, both of which we at Bookbag highly recommend. In a similar vein – the secrets and lies that can surround a life, you might also enjoy Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins, which is, frankly, superb

Lastly, we at Bookbag would like to extend our thanks to the generous ladies and gentlemen at Corsair for sending us this copy to review.

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