Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My Former Heart by Cressida Connolly: Love, lesbians and a parrot called Birdle

Connolly: rippling
Cressida Connolly's long-awaited debut novel (she has written short stories and non-fiction before) is a charming dream, a study of lives, loves  (and lesbians). It follows three generations of women, all sprightly, intelligent and unconventional. Connolly has a great gift for the subtle nuances of character: all her women are powerfully individual and real. There are moments of extreme tension (as when a snooty sister-in-law hides a letter), dashes of comedy, and flashes of tenderness and poignancy: hidden relationships, broken loves. Living as long as any of them is the psychopathic Birdle, a grumpy parrot whose wilfulness and strange charm mirrors the lives of the women themselves. Her sense of place is acute, and her appreciation of the power of nature is paramount. There is a deep understanding of humanity here, and a calm wiseness (is that a word?) and sparky wit that illuminates everything. It's one of my novels of the year so far.

I was present when Connolly finished her novel: 'it's far too long,' she said. 'Shall I cut half of it?' Thank goodness she didn't - we'd be much worse off without this lilting, limpid and rippling work of fiction.
Read about Cressida Connolly's launch party here.

1 comment:

  1. I think My Former Heart will be an interesting read. I like her short stories. I just wish Cressida will smile more on this picture.

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