Friday, 9 March 2018
The Queen of Bloody Everything by Joanna Nadin
Edie is artistic, bohemian, slapdash. She doesn't care about her daughter's bedtimes, or homework being done, or about eating up your greens. You'd think she'd be the mother that children dreamed of having, but children always want what they don't have, and her daughter Dido longs for a 'normal' family - the perfect mum, dad, 2.4 children set up of glossy lifestyle magazines, but above all a mother who understands the importance of rules and routine in a child's life. Investigating the gate in the back fence of their new garden, Dido thinks she's stumbled into this paradise - a ready-made family, the Trevelyans; Tom, his sister Harry, and their parents, Angela and David. It's love at first sight for a six year old. As the years pass, Dido's infatuation with the Trevelyans grows stronger, but even Eden had its problems, and Dido's little paradise has its share too.
The Queen of Bloody Everything is Joanna Nadin's first for a adult readership, beautifully written in a first person style which entices the reader in, and a moving look at a tumultuous mother/daughter relationship. With no father figure on the scene to share her love or anger, Dido's relationship with her mother is perhaps closer and more all-consuming than another child's might be, but at the same time she longs for what she sees as 'normal', imagining it to be better than what she has. Fundamentally though, Edie and Dido approach life and family in opposing ways; Edie has spent her life trying to escape the shackles of respectability and parental guidance; Dido craves them.
It's a story filled with nostalgia, particularly for the 70s and 80s, which seen through Dido's child-eyes are simpler, filled with love and the promise of a bright future. Dido's perfect world is based on wishful thinking and the Trevelyans aren't the perfect people she imagines, yet as she grows up and their flaws become apparent, Edie is the person who bears the brunt of Dido's disappointment, anger, and teenage tantrums.
I absolutely loved this book - its intimate, perceptive look at mother/daughter relationships, from the intensity of childhood to a more equal adult friendship, and its believable, attractive yet flawed characters. I'm hoping Joanna Nadin will be writing more adult novels!
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Mantle (Panmacmillan)
Genre - adult fiction, mother/daughter relationships,