Tuesday 2 July 2013

Little Beauty by Alison Jameson

1975: Laura Quinn has spent her life on the remote and beautiful Inis Miol Mor - Whale Island- off the west coast of Ireland. After the death of her parents, and faced with the continuing reluctance of her lover, Martin, to marry her, she realizes she needs to leave the island for her life really to begin.

She accepts a job as a housekeeper with a wealthy couple on the mainland. But a year later, Laura is back, and this time she is not alone. She has at last found the love of her life: a baby son named Matthew. But what sort of life can an unmarried mother have on a remote Irish island in the 1970s? In this complex situation is revealed a picture of a tightly knit community where Laura inevitably comes under pressure to conform to the rules of society.

I absolutely loved this book! I have read some great Irish novels this year, but this one takes the biscuit!

Alison Jameson has a very unique way of writing and I thought she wrote beautifully. The descriptions she used to describe a characters emotions and feelings really got to the core of each of the characters and I could picture everything so well.

I really liked the main character Laura. A lonely lady outcast by her small, close knit community on the island of Inis Miol Mor because of her Mother's suicide and their house facing the sea (which was considered to be bad luck). They thought that Laura was odd, but I thought that she actually had her head screwed on better than most people in the book. I think she came across as odd due to the lack of interactivity with other people, and she let her true emotions show on the surface (what a lot of us tend to hide) and I think this was partly what made her appear mad to the islanders. She was also written as if she was a lot younger than her 38 year old self, but this made sense to me as she had had to look after herself from a very young age.

Martin was an unusual character. I went from disliking him to liking him and back again. At first he appears to just use Laura to sleep with her and I hated how sexist he was sometimes. But when Laura goes to the mainland for her job interview, Martin ends up following her. I think Martin's heart was in the right place but he let society rule him at times.

When Laura has her baby, for the first time she realises that someone actually loves her and this made me feel incredibly sad that she had had to wait all this time to feel like that. Despite the circumstances of how she had baby Mattie, I felt like Laura had found what she was looking for in life and was so happy for her.

So when Audrey and Finn (her employers) did what they did, I absolutely hated them for it! In my eyes it was unforgivable and it broke my heart for Laura. I really liked them at first, and believe that they greatly used Laura for their own selfish gain.

Although this novel was sad, it did actually have some dark humour in it that made me laugh. A lot of this humour came from the character of Laura, which is what made me think that she was not as odd as the islanders and Audrey and Finn made her out to be. The humour lifted the novel and it was what made it so good for me.

This was an extremely emotive and thought-provoking novel, that although sad, was written so well that I just could not put it down. I will definitely be reading more from Alison Jameson.


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