Long time no book review, eh?
I have this condition where my eyes feel so heavy, even when I’ve done nothing but sleep conveniently. I’ve Google searched (why not? this is 2017) and I’ve started praying.
Right now I could just close my eyes and refuse to write this post but then I’d be hard pressed to repeat a post on blogging and consistency.
26a. Can I start by saying I had reservations about reviewing this book. I know that a book review doesn’t mean total endorsement. I also know that appreciation of a book doesn’t mean acceptance of the author’s worldview and all of the book’s message.
However, not all readers know that. Hence my express disclaimer: I do not agree with some of the messages of this book but it piques my interest well enough and I’m willing to review it as a piece of art.
Publisher/publication date: Vintage books/ 2006
I love the title. Simple. Enthralling. I first knew of this book when there was a book fair in my school in 2015. I’d gone to Trenchard hall where the book fair held, with my friend. At a certain stall, I picked this book up, glanced at it and snapped it. I didn’t have enough money to purchase it. I simply judged the book by its cover and was impressed (books still get judged by their cover. Forget that English idiom).
Twice, I started reading this book and twice, I dropped it. It was incomprehensible. A world of twin jargon involving Gladstone, hamster, beanbag.
In other words, the book demands your attention. You don’t go in casually. You ask, seek, knock.
The Hunters live in no 26a, Waifer avenue, Neasden. The mother is a Nigerian who constantly battles homesickness and puts cayenne pepper on her Yorkshire pudding. When depressed, she goes into the bathroom for hours, having mental conversation with her mother in an Edo village in Nigeria.
The father, Aubrey, works hard to satisfy the family and on certain nights, he changes character.
The children are older sister Bel, the twins; Georgia and Bessi, and baby sister Kemy who desperately longs to belong to the twins’ inner circle.
It’s a coming of age tale of the twins.
The book deals with togetherness and separation. Togetherness of a family unit and separation of it. Togetherness of twins and separation.
“and this: Oneness in twoness in oneness- for ever. But how?”
This book touches on identity, culture and roots. Aubrey’s stay in Nigeria is horrible for him and Ida’s stay in England, horrible for her. It questions how far a person’s tradition goes with them.
“Ida had retreated back into her dressing gown as the Sekon Sun had faded. For her, home was not homeless; it was one place, one tree, one heat. She made herself a bubble and It was called Nigeria-without-Aubrey. Her children were allowed inside, Bel on her right, Kemy always on her lap where the lastborn never left, and the twins a little way off, in a bubble of their own. At dinner, Ida sometimes said “pass the salt” in Edo and Aubrey would stab something on his plate; or in the early mornings, she said, ‘at home now, they’re singing.’ She held Edo lessons in Bel’s room on Saturdays, because language was loyalty and Ida was not pleased when Aubrey told her to stop. ‘We’re in England now,’ he said ‘the girls don’t need Nigerian here. They’ll forget It soon enough’…”
It also touches on sexual assault and its reverberating effect; On peer pressure and the loss of innocence; On depression and its every fibre, even the thought of purchasing milk.
One thing that makes this book quite difficult at its end, is that it deals with loss. And no study on loss is ever easy. Loss, is never easy.
It’s reflective of the separation that comes to ties that were meant to bind forever.
Inspite of its solemn theme, lots of pages in the book are exhilarating. I was taken on a ride to Neasden. I understand “it’s good, eve”, “the Apple tree”, “Bessi’s best bed”, “mr hyde”.
I certainly won’t be able to share the good excerpts without revealing too much. We’ll make do with this:
“It was foreign to them, living like this, coming across each other in the playground the way others did, as if they were the same as them, the twinless ones. It felt to them like being halved and doubled at the same time.”
“Neasden was easier. A little hilly place next to a river and a motorway with nodding trees and one stubby rows of shops. One bank, one library, one optician, one chemist, one chip-chop, one Chinese takeaway, pub, hairdresser, off-licence, cash ‘n’ carry, green grocer and two newsagents, a full stop at each end of Neasden lane”
“It could be the sound of the youngest screaming . Or it could be the sight of the oldest hurt, that makes a woman lose completely the order of things, the sense of past and future and what if, what would happen if.”
It’s a good piece of literature. Diana Evans has a sharp eye that I commend. All the details about Nigeria are credible.
“Very enjoyable, Evans writes with tremendous verve and dash. Her ear for dialogue is superb, and she has wit and sharp perception…a constantly readable book filled with likeable characters; a study of loss that has great heart and humour”
I’ll love to have some discussion with someone who has read this book. I judge this to be art because it provokes something that was previously resting.