If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud

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If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: What - and where - is home? Ingrid Persaud explores this theme in a novel that follows two characters as their lives slowly converge. Absorbing, warm and rich with the patois and customs of Trinidadian life.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Blue China Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0992697700

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Bea is a practising psychologist. It's her second career - she was once an ambitious academic, a professor of history, but a longstanding depression led to a breakdown and recovery meant a search for pastures new and more fulfilling. But even now, she can't cast off the family crises that led to her illness. Tina is a young girl living in Trinidad with her mother. One question preoccupies Tina - who is her father? Her mother won't say and her grandmother and aunt claim not to know. Tina feels lonely a lot of the time and she is sure that finding her father would put an end to her unhappiness.

These two do not know one another but, as they search for answers and meaning, their lives slowly converge.

Told in an alternating narrative from the points of view of both Bea and Tina, and through flashbacks, If I Never Went Home is an absorbing, warm novel. We can guess from the start that these two women are connected somehow but it will take a great deal of patient unpicking of family history before the full truth is revealed.

This novel is a journey of discovery for both Bea and Tina. What - and where - is home? Is it the place where you were born? Is it the place you live now? Is it within the bosom of your family? But what if your family is broken? Bea and Tina lack a sense of belonging and their lives can't feel complete without it. Much as this is a predicament for every human being, of either gender, this novel is for women who will understand this search for an identity independent of men and relationships with them.

Neither woman is perfect. Bea, a woman who has made a career in America, can appear self-absorbed and navel-gazing - even a Caribbean nurse at the psychiatric hospital comments that Bea's are the problems of the wealthy world and there are plenty of people whose poverty makes them as a luxury to be indulged. Tina is rebellious and rash and not above using dishonesty to get what she wants. But both characters are sympathetic nonetheless, and you'll find yourself longing for stability and love for them as much as they long for these things themselves.

There is a large cast of supporting characters from doctors and nurses in America to a host of Trinidadian relatives. I will say that the islanders feel more rounded and credible than those stateside. In particular, I loved the sweaty but loving Granny Gwen, who rises from the pages in comedic but sympathetic glory.

Rich with the customs and patois of Trinidadian life, If I Never Went Home paints a vivid picture of an island full of life, personality, sunshine and wonderful food and drink? But does this make it home? I'll leave you to read it and find out. You'll enjoy it, I promise.

If you like the sound of If I Never Went Home, you might also enjoy Booker longlisted A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards.

You can read more about Ingrid Persaud here.

Buy If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud at Amazon.co.uk


Buy If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud at Amazon.com.

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