The More You Ignore Me by Jo Brand
|The More You Ignore Me by Jo Brand|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Milli Pithie|
|Summary: A quick read you'll enjoy; written in a light and funny style but with a terribly sad reality at its core.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: January 2010|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
Alice is growing up in a cottage in Herefordshire with her gentle, hippy father and her mother, Gina, who spends her days standing around like a chain-smoking zombie because she is kept on medication and has been for years. Gina's first psychotic episode occured after Alice's birth. Then there was the episode Alice remembers, the day her mother climbed onto the roof, naked, holding Smelly the hamster, and refused to come down. From that day, the old Gina, boisterous and unconventional as she was, fell silent under the numbing impact of constant medication. Jo Brand tells the story of how Alice coped with the loneliness and worry of growing up with an ill mother. Most importantly, as I'm sure the teenage Alice would see it, we are shown the birth and life of her obsession with Morrissey of The Smiths. In his music she finds escapism and comfort and in him she finds a figure to adore. Her friends can't understand her fixation and her mother understands fixation a little too well (the local weatherman having been the object of one of her fervent obsessions). Morrissey sings with such sensitivity and angst that surely, Alice thinks, if she could just meet him and tell him her story he could help her and she could help him...
There is much to like in this book. The characters are funny and believable. There are many moments when you feel for a character as if they were more than words on a page and that is a great achievement. It seems all the sadder when you remember that Brand is drawing on her experiences in a real psychiatric hospital in which she once worked as although the characters may be fictional, the inspiration is not. Sadness, however, is not the defining emotion of this book. There is an abundance of sweetness and happiness and wit. I think this is the point where I should say that I didn't actually laugh out loud too many times but I smiled and thought 'that's funny' a fair bit. Maybe I just don't laugh very easily... Still, don't read it if you simply want to be rolling in stitches. Do read it if you want a novel with a serious heart balanced by a humorous tone which is maintained throughout.
I have to warn the pedantics out there that this book is carelessly edited. There are inconsistencies which should have been corrected and I'm sure there were many slightly uncomfortable word choices here and there. Moreover, the first sentence was either written about then forgotten, or it became relevant at some later point in the novel and I missed it. If Alice had 'five personalities' they are not overtly explored at any point. She seems to wear a surly, guarded demeanor which hides her inner softness and normality but that is all. Alice is tragically ordinary, really. It's her life that refuses to be normal.
I think a lot of people will really like this book. It has a good story, great characters and it's funny. The emotions expressed somehow manage to be poetic even though the language isn't. It's a friendly length. Finally, you'll want to read all the way to the end. And it's worth it: the last line is gold.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: If you like this you could read Jo Brand's autobiography Look Back in Hunger.
You can read more book reviews or buy The More You Ignore Me by Jo Brand 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 The More You Ignore Me by Jo Brand at Amazon.com.
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