What must it be like to grow up in the house of a scientist who is performing a living experiment on you? Such is the story of this book written in the first person by Rosemary. The book starts with her as a twenty two year old student who has had her unfair share of suffering and struggles. Bot her brother and sister have left home and her life has been blighted by these events. It is difficult to review the book without giving away the surprise secret only revealed on page 77. Suffice it to say that there is much about the behaviour of animals in the book and the way that they might be modified by close proximity to humans and of course vice versa. The brutality of the jungle comes across loud and clear. Rosemary doesn’t talk much as an adult because she talked too much as a child which means she feels that she was responsible for the breakup of the family.
As well has having much to say about human animal relationships it is also an excoriation of parents who put their ideologies above the happiness and well-being of their children. It is certainly a down on Dads. As the Guardian reviewer puts it, “many a novel has devoted itself to exploring variations of Larkin’s lament about what mums and dads do to their kids. But if any other book has done it as exhilaratingly as the achingly funny, deeply serious heart-breaker that is Fowler’s 10th novel, and made it ring true for the whole of mankind, I’ve yet to read it. This is a moral comedy to shout about from the treetops.”
Karen Joy Fowler is one of the four Americans and three women on the long list. It is, by Man Booker standards, a remarkably easy read and I have no doubt will soon be among the best sellers of the year in the UK.