Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile

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Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Laura Bailey
Reviewed by Laura Bailey
Summary: A dark and haunting novel about an incestuous relationship between father and daughter. This book is written with such attention to detail that it feels like so much more than just fiction; while the characters are presented in a way that makes the events seem a necessary and natural progression.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
ISBN: 978-1846687464

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Repeat it Today with Tears follows the story of Susanna, a sixteen year old girl from a broken and loveless home who obsessively collects information in the back of a notebook about the father she has never met. When by chance she discovers that he still lives nearby she sets out deliberately to find and seduce him.

The noir and psychologically directed plot, as well as the literary writing style, give Repeat it Today with Tears that darkly twisted feel of an early McEwan novel. The book's subject matter is obviously its main selling point, but dealing with a taboo subject like incest can be difficult. Yet Anne Peile's distinctive and elegant writing style means that her non-judgemental treatment of her subject is pretty much perfect. Her writing is lyrical, and with such attention to tiny details that this novel feels like so much more than fiction. She creates a world that is as real, if not more real, than the one the reader is leaving behind.

The novel is split into two halves; the events themselves, and their aftermath. Although the first section of the novel focuses on the core events in the present tense we are given a complete backstory of the main characters to allow us to entirely understand their motives. This backstory fits smoothly into the narrative and in a relatively short space of time we get to know each character intimately. This was so important, as I felt that I could understand every decision that Susanna made and so the story never became too disconcerting.

Susanna is a sophisticated character, mature for her age, knowing exactly what the ramifications of what she is doing are, but so fragile and clear a character that the reader will feel they get to know her completely. She is a hauntingly vulnerable person, a young girl who just wants to be loved by, and to please, her father. This desire, along with the development of the relationship itself is wonderfully written. With subtle scenes and by using certain words in just the right place Peile creates a relationship that is at once a passionate romance, yet also has the creepy undertones of a father-daughter relationship, and we begin to wonder whether Susanna's father does in fact know who she is.

Incestuous sex, because it does take place in the novel, is dealt with in such a tactful way, and with a grace of pen so that, despite the controversial subject, the novel never becomes sordid, and never becomes too much for the reader to handle. To the contrary there is a sense of raw necessity and harmony to the physical relationship between the main characters that comes across as very real and compelling. While, at the same time, although the sex scenes are written in a vague and tasteful way the reader is always aware of exactly what acts have just taken place.

The novel also strongly evokes the atmosphere and attitudes of the time and place in which it is set; Chelsea in the 1970s. The atmosphere of sexual freedom and unconventionality drips from the pages and provides the perfect backdrop for an illicit and incestuous affair.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you liked Repeat it Today with Tears then you might like Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, an equally dark tale of illicit love.

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Buy Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile at

Booklists.jpg Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile is in the Orange Prize 2011.


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