I read this in hardback when it was first released (as I do all of Maggie O’Farrell’s books) but the recent release of the paperback prompted me to go back and reread it.
And thank goodness I did. Once again I got to marvel at the perfect tone of her stories and her lyricism. What struck me, as I read her stories, is her sense of optimism and above all her will. Her will to survive. Her will to succeed. Her will to carry on carrying on. There is not a single self-pitying sentence in the entire book. Her wit and her wisdom shine through every page, but not in a saintly way – she is matter of fact and tells her tales warts and all.
You would be forgiven for thinking that 17 brushes with death (well 16, those who have read it will understand my caveat) would make O’Farrell maudlin, fearful, or see herself as ‘unlucky’. But, as she tells an ex-boyfriend, she sees herself as lucky.
I read this book in a single sitting the first time, and again this time round. And I suspect I will, the third and fourth time (ad infinitum) that I read this. And you should to.