Nat K's Reviews > Girl, Woman, Other

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2019-books, buddy-reads, contemporary, womens-fiction, urban-grit

✩✩✩ Joint Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019 ✩✩✩

”On Our Own Terms or Not At All.”

Twelve stories from twelve women.

When I started reading this, the stories seemed straightforward. Deceptively simple & relatively harmless. At face value they seemed to be about “women’s stuff”.

Was I wrong! Upfront, this review will be all over the shop. Bear with. There is just so much going on in this book, it’s a challenge for me to reflect this properly in this review.

We meet women of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, educational levels, class & sexual persuasions. All caught up in this thing called life.

What does it mean to be a woman today? Does a woman now have the same hopes, dreams & aspirations as a woman did 20, 30, 50 years ago? Does anything ever really change?

The writing style is quite unique. Characters cross paths as their stories intersect. We get to learn more of their backstories while the focus is on anotherprotagonist. I love how I had one impression of a character that I wasn’t particularly keen on, only to change my mind about her many chapters down the track when I saw her in a different light.

I was completely taken off guard by the depiction of domestic violence in an all female relationship. That really opened my eyes. I don’t know why I was so surprised that this occurs.

The plight of the refugee and immigrant is highlighted with poignancy. How much is left behind, and is it worth how much is gained? Does material wealth equal happiness? Even when escaping from a violent country, the cost of broken families cannot be measured. The hopes that the next generation will have an “easier” life and more opportunities. But then the new generation have their own prejudices to overcome and hurdles to jump. A different set of issues to deal with. The goalposts are ever moving.

There are amusing depictions of the “power struggles” between the generations. Each one convinced that their fight is the more important. The one that will change society.

”…the older generation has RUINED EVERYTHING and her generation is dooooooooooooooomed…”
(you get the picture)

We see the dynamics of various constructs of the no longer typical nuclear family. The single mother, the lesbian mother, the working mother, the traditional father from the “old” country, the absentee father, the father who didn’t even know he had a child.

For me these women’s voices are about their struggle to be heard and understood. Treated fairly. Paid equally. Respected and loved.

We also hear from their menfolk. Of their struggles and triumphs as men of colour. The assumption being they’ll either end up as football stars, bouncers or hooligans. The ones that do rise to some level of corporate achievement often have to do so at personal cost.

Bernadine Evaristo captures the subtle quirks and failings of her characters with biting wit. But she also captures their vulnerabilities and strengths with equal candour. We get into their heads.

I’m old school when it comes to grammar and punctuation (a la “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”). I don’t even use abbreviations in text messages. Oddly, the distinct lack of following writing “rules” in this book didn’t bother me.

Sentences merge into one another in a free flowing form. There’s the occasional capital letter, and the fullstop is an endangered species. But for some perverse reason I can’t possibly fathom, it works.

I’m thrilled this book has made it to the Booker shortlist. Very well deserved.

A very solid 4.5 ★★★★ It was just an eeny bit too long for me. Having said that, I’m keen to read Bernadine’s other books.

*** Shortlisted for the Man Booker. Deservedly so! ***

Another unofficial buddy read (*waves*) with extremely well-read-book-fiend Collin. Yup, I’m hanging off his Man Booker Prize 2019 coat tails. Makes me feel somewhat a more sophisticated reader to do so. #Team Collin. Please make sure you check out his utterly fab review, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than mine…
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
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Reading Progress

August 26, 2019 – Shelved
August 26, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
September 3, 2019 – Started Reading
September 3, 2019 –
page 20
4.42% "Unofficial buddy read with Collin 🙂"
September 11, 2019 –
page 160
35.32% ""have you heard the expression, check your privilege, babe?"
September 19, 2019 –
page 240
52.98% "I love this...the wonder of evolving into someone new...

"Carole listened and learned from her new social circle
'what would you like?' instead of 'whatdyawant?'
'to whom were you speaking?' instead of 'who was you talking to?'
'I'm just popping to the loo instead' of 'I'm gonna go piss' "
"
September 26, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-books
September 26, 2019 – Shelved as: buddy-reads
September 26, 2019 – Shelved as: contemporary
September 26, 2019 – Shelved as: womens-fiction
September 26, 2019 – Shelved as: urban-grit
September 26, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)

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message 1: by Kevin (last edited Sep 26, 2019 10:39PM) (new)

Kevin Ansbro A wonderfully heartfelt, intelligent review, Nat!


message 2: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Thanks so much Kevvy, appreciate it!


Collin "Makes a hell of a lot more sense than mine", Nat you have to be joking, absolutely brilliant review. I wish I would have mentions the difference in the generations as I feel that it is a very important part of the novel. Each generation faces a different world. Imagine young people today have been born into a world never knowing of a world in which the internet and social media did not even exist.


message 4: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Hmmm...I think your review is more succint. There are just so many segments splintering off in this book, I wanted to try to capture them all.

Gotta say, a world pre-internet had its' charms.


Bianca Excellent, comprehensive review, Nat. I've got this on hold, hopefully I'll find it worthwhile reading.


message 6: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Nice one Bianca! I'd be interested to see how you think this compares with "10 Minutes, 38 Seconds".


Bianca Nat wrote: "Nice one Bianca! I'd be interested to see how you think this compares with "10 Minutes, 38 Seconds"."

I certainly hope it'll impress me more than "10 minutes" did.


message 8: by Laysee (new)

Laysee I have a really good sense of the women's issues from your comprehensive and thoughtful review, Nat. [Writing breaking conventions of grammar and punctuation will annoy me. But maybe it won't since you survived it. Like you, I do not abbreviate even in text messages. :-) ]


Kathleen Excellent, excellent review. Hope to read it soon.


message 10: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Dear Laysee, there are so many dimensions to this book. Usually the lack of grammatical conventions frustrate me, but I didn't even notice it after a while.

I'm so pleased to know I'm not the only one who sends complete sentences in text messages 😉


message 11: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Thanks so much Kathleen ⚘ I look forward to hearing your thoughts, it's quite the story.


Somethingsnotright This is a great review Nat! I hadn't planned to read this because some of the stronger criticism really put me off - specifically, that this is a prime example of literature devolving into intersectionality. However, some of it sounds interesting. I might give it a go! :)


message 13: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Oh you must read it SNR! You'll totally get it. After all, what are critiques other than someone's opinion. Go for it.


message 14: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Sounds great!


message 15: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K It is Lisa! Hope you get a chance to read it 🌻


message 16: by Ron (new)

Ron Even with so much going on, you wrapped it up so nicely Nat. :)


message 17: by Richard (new)

Richard A wonderful review Nat!


message 18: by Paltia (new) - added it

Paltia Don’t you love it when what seems a basic story begins to twist and turn? Great review of a book I’m anxious to read.


message 19: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Thanks lots Ron! Glad it made sense, I had thoughts going everywhere.


message 20: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Thanks Richard! Have you read it/are you planning to?


message 21: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Absolutely Paltia 😊

Hope you get to read this soon, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


message 22: by Vanessa (new) - added it

Vanessa Solid review Nat and I’m really looking forward to reading this book now!


message 23: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K That's great to hear Vanessa! I think it will be a story & style you'll enjoy very much.


message 24: by Pedro (new) - added it

Pedro Brilliant review, Nat. Well done.


message 25: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Thank you Pedro ☺


message 26: by Diana (new)

Diana This sounds so interesting, great review, Nat!


message 27: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Great review Nat! 💕


message 28: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Diana wrote: "This sounds so interesting, great review, Nat!"

It's a great book Diana, I hope you get a chance to read it.


message 29: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Sandra wrote: "Great review Nat! 💕"

Thank you so much! 🌺


message 30: by Leila (new)

Leila Outstanding and in depth review Nat. The book sounds a really worthwhile read about women in our fast changing society. Coming from a patriarchal religion where women are still considered second class human beings, to read this book sounds such a refreshing experience. Thank you!


message 31: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Thanks so much Leila. It was both an interesting & empowering book. Not all of the circumstances the women went through were easy - many were terrifying- but somehow they came out stronger from them. I hope you get a chance to read it.


message 32: by Fran (new)

Fran Spectacular review, Nat!


message 33: by Leila (new)

Leila Oh I will Nat (smiles) It is already ordered and I'm expecting it on Thursday. My bank account suffers greatly from book buying I'm afraid. I just can't resist!


message 34: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K That's great Leila! I look forward to hearing what you think. I think buying books is a perfect hobby to have ☺


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters wow --fantastic!!! I wasn't looking at this book -- just had seen the 'cover' -- so I know/knew ZERO about it --until now -- and thank you Nat....I think I would very much like this book too.
appreciate your wonderful informative review! xoxoxo
And..I adore you! Hope you are doing well --with holidays -family -etc. xox


message 36: by Fergus (new) - added it

Fergus FANTASTIC review, Nat! I WILL buy this book. Thanks so much!


message 37: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Leila wrote: "Outstanding and in depth review Nat. The book sounds a really worthwhile read about women in our fast changing society. Coming from a patriarchal religion where women are still considered second cl..."

There is so much going on in this book Leila. It's fascinating regarding about the different women's journeys (some good, some not so good). Hope you grab a copy next time you're at the library.


message 38: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) wrote: "wow --fantastic!!! I wasn't looking at this book -- just had seen the 'cover' -- so I know/knew ZERO about it --until now -- and thank you Nat....I think I would very much like this book too.
appr..."


For some reason I thought you’d already read this Elyse? Don’t know why…I just assume (as you've read everything!).

Yes, you simply must read it, you’ll get a lot from it. I’d love to read you review as you always put such a personal slant on the books you review.

Not long til your and Paul’s holiday (woo-hoo!). Will PM you soon. HUGS to you gorgeous! 💝🌸💝


message 39: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Fergus wrote: "FANTASTIC review, Nat! I WILL buy this book. Thanks so much!"

Why thank you so much Fergus! I'm so pleased to hear that. I look forward to your review and hearing what you think, as I’m sure you’ll look at it from a very unique perspective.


message 40: by Federico (new)

Federico DN Awesome!!


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