Lisa Blower’s short story
starts off as a deceptively simply as a tale of a young girl going on holiday with her family, chips, car journeys, caravans and all.
Slyly, over the next half hour, the storytelling blurs at the edges and fast forwards through the next three decades of the girl’s life and you hear of the family’s journey through disappointments, shocks, bereavements and splits, returning time and again to the caravan park in Barmouth.
There’s an interview with Lisa Blower here
in which she discusses the aims of her portraits of this life, as told over such a long period of time.
One theme that struck me when listening to the interview was class. Blower’s working class upbringing in Stoke-on-Trent, came across much more breezily in the interview than it did in the story. Reader Rebekah Staton, although admirably sensitive and lightly Northern in her reading, came across as more mannered and posh than Blower herself.
The other thing that struck me was the character of the narrator’s sister, Louby. I was struck by this because of the similarity with the sister character in my recent read Me Before You. Both narrators in these stories have a messy approach to life; both have sisters who are cleverer and more decisive than they are, more sorted, more decisive.
Part of me wonders whether writers hesitate to show a main female character who is the clever, fierce and objectionable, in case it goes against reader sentiment, relegating these characters to a side show. I hope this is not so and that it is a decision driven by narrative convenience – it is of course easier to write an interesting character who has some flaws to drive the action, and to overcome.
These are just thoughts of mine, and by no means detract from the enjoyment of half an hour spent listening to the radio. The story is told in a very unfussy way, skimming over sadness like stones barely touching the surface of clear water. It’s evocative and wise and moving and well worth a listen if you have half an hour.
One of things that prompted me to set this blog up was listening to a play on the radio and not having anyone to discuss it with. So if you have listened, what did you think of it? Please leave a comment and let me know.
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