Wednesday 1 April 2009

All We Know of Love / Nora Raleigh Baskin

Summary - Natalie is on a bus trip to see her mother, who had abandoned her family four years earlier. On the way, she thinks about her confusing relationship with her boyfriend Adam and about her even more confusing relationship with her mother. Natalie also brushes up against various strangers who harbour their own stories of love and loss. Though she has a comfortable life in Connecticut, Natalie can’t forget the day her mother left or that her mother was on the verge of revealing something about love.

Review - Baskin's tale has a structure that in theory probably shouldn't work in a narrative this short ... but it does. Natalie is on the road, crossing the country to reunite with an unsuspecting mother. This story really is about how easy it is to blame yourself for another's persons choices. Natalie has become an expert at it, her question about chocolate chip cookies drove her mother away. Her boyfriend's lack of interest in her (with an exception to one thing) is because she's not interesting enough. Blah, blah, blah. In truth, Natalie is a bit of a sad sack. There is a lack of vitality about her but I pose that this is due to her parents and her boyfriend sucking it out of her.

What is really striking about this book is the structure. As Natalie travels by bus towards her mother she meets many different people. Natalie's story is spliced with short vignettes from the other person's reflection on a time in their past. These stories always revolve around love - the joy, the disappointment, the yearning and the lust - but they never intrude upon Natalie's journey.

Baskin has a lovely way of phrasing her thoughts. Some might consider them to be a little blunt but that's why I liked her style. One of Natalie's concerns (other than her meeting with her mother) is a pregnancy scare and Baskin's line of 'But no matter how hard I try, I cannot will my uterus into shedding it's lining' will definitely be too confronting for some but I got a great little laugh out of it. It appealed to the absurd in me.

This won't be a read for everyone but I liked it nevertheless.

Published: 2009
Format: Paperback, 206 pages
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Origin: USA

1 comment:

Alea said...

I think I might like this :)