Speaking of Love by Angela Young
|Speaking of Love by Angela Young
|Category: Literary Fiction
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: An incisive look at parent/child relationships, the problems of mental illness and the effects of lack of communication. Oh, and it's a joy to read too. Angela Young popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
|Date: October 2013
|Publisher: Amazon Media
|External links: Author's website
For some people it's impossible to tell another person that they love them and both are damaged. Iris could not tell her daughter, Vivie, that she loved her and Matthew, Vivie's childhood friend, neighbour and would-be lover could not tell her how he felt. For all three the result was years of separation with Vivie feeling that she was fundamentally unloveable and the whole situation was further complicated by Iris's mental disintegration and her treatment removing most of her memories of Vivie's childhood. If that sounds depressing and soul-destroying then I am doing Speaking of Love an injustice because it's also a story of trust, reconciliation and learning to speak about your feelings.
It's a big book, in all senses of the word, but I read it in a couple of sittings, surprised at my own compulsion to read on. I'll confess that with a family history of mental illness it's a subject I try to avoid in fiction, but I discovered very quickly that this book is sympathetic and that it's deeply, startlingly accurate. Mental illness is difficult to convey without the victim coming to seem like a caricature, but I was always aware of the person first and foremost - and the illness afterwards. I was surprised too by the extent to which I came to care for each of the characters. With many fictional depictions of people with mental illness I simply fail to connect, but with Iris I felt as though I'd been pulled into her mind. I even had my doubts about the 'voice' she felt compelled to obey - and whether or not it was real. I think Iris realised before I did!
The character who touched me most was Vivie. A doctor once told me that people who are forced by circumstances to live with someone with a mental illness are frequently touched by it themselves and it was easy to see the symptoms of depression in Vivie as well as the lack of experience of good adult role models on which to base her own relationships. She's a superb creation. Matthew was the least strong of the major characters - something of a foil for the women - but that might have been inevitable in the circumstances.
The plot is beautifully constructed with the story being told by - or on behalf of - each of the major characters. Iris is a storyteller and this device is used with elegance - it could have been trite but added immeasurably to the story, particularly as Angela Young makes full use of the effects of colour and scent. It's a splendid story and I'm keen to see what Young can do next. I'd like to thank her for sending a copy of the book along to the Bookbag.
For another fictional look at mental illness we can recommend Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale.
You can read more about Angela Young here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Speaking of Love by Angela Young at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Speaking of Love by Angela Young at Amazon.com.
Angela Young was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Speaking of Love by Angela Young is in the Top Ten Self-Published Books 2013.
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