I don’t pretend to know anything about modern music, African food or culture, even some of the books I’ve never heard of. Yet there are aspects of this book which are very familiar. Relationships go through phases and children bring change and concern. Like A Spool of Blue Thread this novel is about family and ‘ordinary people.’
This book is about Michael and Melissa they live in an old 1900’s house with their young daughter Ria and baby Blake. The house appears to collect dust and Melissa has a problem constantly cleaning. She feels unsettled, that the house is haunted, and a pest infestation only adds to this.
Michael travels across London to work and uses this time to reflect on his past life, previous relationships and how his life with Melissa has changed over thirteen years. He likens his life to a John Legend album with loss, heartache and infidelity. When Melissa looks at her life, she sees the impossible task of being a mother and tying to maintain a career. The conflicting advice in books, the competition between mothers, the self-doubt, that she should have a career to give her a sense of achievement and self-worth. As a freelance magazine writer she can work from home, but she also has the children’s interruptions to cope with. When Michael comes home he retreats to his phone, an essential part of life, but a barrier to communication.
There is very little drama in this book which may make it a little slow for some people’s tastes. There is a great emphasis on food and music, which I assume has great cultural significance and for that reason makes it interesting. The preparation of food for Melissa, appears to offer warmth and comfort, there is a connection to home and family, not just to an event, but a cultural bond, a heritage. There is a nice chapter on multi-culturalism emphasizing richness and diversity. I am not sure I would read this writer again. It was nice to see things from a different perspective and it is good to recognise everyone has the same hopes and dreams, but I’m afraid it may be a bit too ‘ordinary’ for some people.
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