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This Is Not about Me

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  167 ratings  ·  27 reviews
'My mother thought I was the menopause' - one of Britain's greatest contemporary novelists turns her focus, in luminous, powerful prose, to her eccentric childhood in the 1950s and '60s.
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Granta Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 324)
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MJ Nicholls
As the title indicates, this is a book about familial ties and the endless desire to sever them. Galloway takes a conventional childhood in Saltcoats, Ayrshire – absent father, weak-willed mother, domineering sister – and transforms these laboured ideas into original and vital prose, crackling with tension, magic, insight and eye-popping characterisation.

Galloway’s novels have always been ludicrously compelling once inside, if somewhat difficult to pitch to the reader. So instead of flailing aro
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Drew
My copy was hit by a freak rainstorm when I left it out on the veranda one evening. It swelled to double the size and when the sun-dried approach failed to work, I went for the more radical bake-in-the-oven strategy. This left me with a crinkle-cooked book, which is therefore currently lying under a hundredweight of art books and encyclopaedias. Given the significance of baking and household chores in Janice Galloway's work generally I found this a nice irony.
A very good if not a great read. I l
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Tuck
these books just keep pouring down on me. well, there's worse ways to go than a book tsunami, specially if Janice Galloway is the spume:
i read this memoir and i recommend it to all lovers of novels and memoirs, especially scottish ones.
Here is an excerpt from Galloway’s time in kindergarten (Infants 1b in Scottish ) because if you are a Janice Galloway fan YOU KNOW her techniques as a writer, and if you don’t then its really hard to explain, but its compelling and funny. Funny like when your f
...more
Claire Rose
I loved this book. Can't wait to read the next volume of her memoirs, All Made Up. It made me want to reread all her fiction, too. A brilliant writer.
Cheryl Brown
There were characters here I kind of recognised and the '. It can only get worse ' approach to life.

An interesting view of a childhood in which there is a constant awareness that one is a burden, a mistake and a nuisance.

I enjoyed the early descriptions of that dependency on a mother and their closeness when they finally leave the abusive father. Life with Cora is a minefield however and only the fact that her mother is safer makes it more bearable.


The voice is constant throughout and overheard
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Nadine
If you ever have to chance to go to a literary interview with Janice Galloway, do yourself a favour and go - she's brilliant, funny, inspiring. When I was flying to England for the first time I was in the middle of her book "the trick is to keep breathing". I've not read anything of hers since but having seen her last year and listened to her talk I went out and bought both of her memoirs, this being the first. Seems bleak at first but there's a lot of humour in it too. Especially like Sophie th ...more
Meg Lynch
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Takes places near Glasgow in the 1950s, where a young girl is growing up. It was full of the things that mark us when we are children, but the language is sadly without power.
James Haliburton
A compelling memoirof Janice Galloway's pre-teenage years; honest and heart-breaking, it captures the confusing behaviour and expectations of adults - in particular her depressed mother and seemingly psychotic elder sister Cora. Anyone growing up in Scotland in the 60s or 70s will be only too familiar with the everyday cruelties of school and that particular Calvinist method of child-rearing, not to mention the Scottish diet of sweeties and chips for all occasions. Somehow Galloway's love of wor ...more
Brian
A very interesting and darkly humorous memoir of a tragic childhood. Brilliant read.
sisterimapoet
Exactly what I hoped for and came to expect from Galloway. Her novels feel highly autobiographical, but it's nice to read the real background of the author behind them. I like the fact that this covers only a limited period of her childhood - it gains a lot from having an intimate focus as opposed to a broad overview. A relatively small cast too - but allowing us to really get to know everyone. As ever with this kind of memoir I'm left wondering how she remembered so much, and how much if not sh ...more
Teresa
I wish that I remembered more of the geography of the town in Scotland where this is set. It was reviewed previously as a somewhat comic narrative. I didn't see it quite that way. It was a view of home life that I'm not familiar with and don't really like to know exists. It's good to be reminded, though, that it has and does happen if foor no other reason than to remind me how good I've had it.
MN
Stunning. The content is raw and the writimg is perfect. I'm still trying to think about the book as a whole - trying but failing because continually overtaken by Galloway's accounts of specific incidents which are sometimes so delicate as to resemble grace notes, but nevertheless presented without a single word out of place.
Gail Addis
Beautifully written, detailed, evocative of its era and area. She summons up seaside Ayrshire in the 60s so well that you can smell the chippy, candy floss and seaweed.
The tale of how a child accepts abuse as normal and how she adapts her behaviour is a classic, and should be read by any professional in that field.
Angie
This book should be re-titled Thanks God This is Not About Me.

Didn't do anything for me at all. There is too much moaning and drudgery in here and not many sparks of joy, given its about someone's childhood, so it has a bleakness I couldn't take. Dreich...as the scots say, how true.
Annie
This was well written, but in this account of a very difficult, abusive childhood in Scotland, there did not seem to be a lot of evidence of transforming the difficulties, making meaning out of it. I sensed there WAS a transformation, but it is not described. It ends when she is 12.
Jeanette
This is a beautifully written memoir about the first twelve years of Janice Galloway's life. Although most of the women in my book club loved the book, I am tired of reading books about author's difficult childhoods not matter how well written they are.
Lynn Kearney
4.5 This book is stunningly good. A memoir of an impoverished childhood - I know, I know, we've heard it all before. But not like this! She's a wonderful writer and I cared about everyone even the demented and demonic Cora.
Leslie Angel
Finally got it. worth the wait. Wonderful writing--strips off all the insulation from the emotional wires connecting mothers and daughters. Have you read anything else by her?
Helen Hepworth

Janice Galloway's unsentimental and unsparing account of her tough Glaswegian childhood is wonderfully evoked and although traumatic is laced with humour.
Rachel Pollock
I should have read this before reading her second memoir, All Made Up. Brief glimpses of good writing in between long stretches of so-what.
Lorna-Rose Davidson
A stunning anti memoir. Galloway as both the author and protagonist draws the reader in to the lives of the people who made her.
Susan
Really enjoyed this story of her childhood she writes so sensitively about relationships and is completely without self pity.
Cnidy
I wanted to read 'The trick is to keep breathing' but this is what the elibrary had
Fivegoblogging


Beautifully evocative of the era. Unpretentious and moving
Angela Sumter
Boring, confusing and not worth reading.
Tammy
Jun 29, 2009 Tammy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Scottish non-fiction book winner of 2009
Laura
terrific. Funny, smart, a must read
Anna
Anna marked it as to-read
Nov 09, 2014
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Janice Galloway was born in Ayrshire in 1955 where she worked as a teacher for ten years. Her first novel, The Trick is to keep Breathing, now widely considered to be a contemporary Scottish classic, was published in 1990. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel, Scottish First Book and Aer Lingus Awards, and won the MIND/Allan Lane Book of the Year. The stage adaptation has been performe ...more
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