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Maya Fowler

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Occasional Insomniac

It was a case of Maya after midnight this weekend, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t up because of troubles in the family. Really, as much as I love to read, the writers that can keep me up past 2am are few and far between.

What an absolutely life-like creation Homemaking for the Down-at-Heart is, bittersweet, warm, thought-provoking and humorous, like all of Dowling’s novels.

From now on “you give me sleepless nights” counts as a compliment

What struck me most was the complete sincerity with which each character is imbued. Getting it right, in the third person, is very hard work, I think. And each person is so carefully presented, one almost believes the author has Mr Morland’s psychic abilities, because how else can you create such a credible and diverse range of personae? And I’m so impressed with the fine balance of emotions – as Karen Scherzinger points out – there are neither slips into sentimentality, nor the other extreme, slapstick. You feel that Dowling loves each character, flaws and all. She cares for them too much to use them as set pieces or cannon fodder or pawns on a chessboard.

It must have taken great emotional energy to write about life and death this way. To demonstrate the descent of a loved one into the long valley of the shadow of death. To allow your protagonist to show such difficulty, at times, with filial piety. To say things that many are afraid to say. And to stir such empathy.

I wish for this book the wide readership it deserves.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    June 3rd, 2011 @22:56 #

    I also read this through the night. Finuala's best yet. A clear-eyed meditation on the unfairness, the sheer bloodiness of life -- and how in the bleakest of situations, we can be constantly surprised by joy (was it C.S. Lewis who said that?) in day-to-day moments. The dolphin walk (anyone who has read the book will know which passage I mean) made me want to sing.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Maya</a>
    June 7th, 2011 @14:07 #

    I can't quite choose between this one and What Poets Need. Both will live on my shelf for rereading.


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