This review is written with thanks to Chloe Rose at Penguin Books for my copy of the audiobook version of Girl Woman Other.
This is Britain as you’ve never read it.
This is Britain as it has never been told.
From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope . . .
I came to this book a little apprehensively as I wasn’t sure that something that was deemed worthy of the Booker Prize would be accessible to little old me. I shouldn’t have been worried. As the blurb says, Girl Woman Other is about twelve women who are each from different backgrounds with very different experiences. There was something in each of these characters for me to take to my heart and the depth with which Evaristo looks at their lives allowed me to empathise with their situations. There is no overriding plot as such, but the thread is in how these women are connected to each other through both friendships and family ties, and I found this fascinating.
Through these characters, Evaristo explores a number of issues. It is impossible to pick them all out, and different issues will obviously stand out more to different readers. For me, it was the themes of racism, gender identity, sexuality and traditional women’s roles that came across particularly strongly. I was amazed how little I actually know about these subjects and I embarked on a massive, but very welcome, learning curve as I listened.
I’ve heard from other people who’ve read Girl Woman Other that they struggled with the lack of punctuation in the novel. This obviously wasn’t an issue in the audio version, as it was read as though the punctuation was in place. The narrator did a wonderful job of bringing the characters from different cultures to life, highlighting the different moods in the book well.
Girl Woman Other is available from Amazon.