by Melanie McGrath
A well-written and thought provoking book. I think the Author is selling it short with the description, 'An East End Family Memoir', - for me, that made me rather half-heartedly pick the book up feeling it would be rather cliched and Knees Up Mother Brown and I say that as someone whose family came from the East End of London. The East End Memoir has been done to death. This was very different, I had to remind myself that it was not a fictional novel. Some of it so heart-breaking in pathos - and some of it was oddly familiar to myself - my Mother had TB and was sent away to a sanitorium, as were many in the early 50s from the same part of London, for some years when she was a little girl which is referenced in the book. I found the central character of the Author's grandmother somewhat one-dimensional and the constant reference to her sweet tooth a little grating. It may well be that she was a rather weak, and simply not very nice person but I felt the characterisation of her was a little cruel too. I had a feeling that there was more to the woman than this downtrodden, toothless vessel of East End hardship. A slight formatting gripe too - the lack of speech-marks confused me a little and caused re-reading at times to realise that a character had stopped speaking and the narrative had started up again, not quite sure of the the editor's reasoning.