Sunday, January 04, 2009

In Search of the Missing Eyelash - Karen McLeod

So my first read of 2009 is already done and dusted. No it’s not Anna Karenina! As I have explained I am having a small break after every part of Anna to read a book or two, as Novel Insights and myself aren’t having Rogue Book Group until later in the month. So the first book I chose for my first Karenina break is Karen McLeod’s debut novel ‘In Search of the Missing Eyelash’ and I devoured it in two sittings one when I went to bed shattered from the return from holiday, and again straight away when I woke up.

‘In Search of the Missing Eyelash’ is narrated by Lizzie. Lizzie is a really interesting character that at first I couldn’t work out if I was going to like. By the end of the novel I was on a complete emotional journey of hilarious highs and also some surprising and shocking lows. Lizzie is in a strange emotional place. Her father has died a while back which has scarred her, she has fallen out with her mother, her brother Simon (or Amanda as he likes to be known) is missing and she is pretty much obsessed with and stalking her ex-girlfriend Sally who has left her for a man ‘with a fat neck’. When I say stalking I mean proper stalking with cameras and stuff collecting bathroom fluff and other odd assortments.

Her confidantes are her self obsessed neighbour (who I didn’t quite like and yet who supplied many laughs) who is always falling in love and her boss Ruby of ‘Ruby’s Caff’. Her workplace and its customers I think were a stroke of complete genius from McLeod secondary characters such as Elsie who is a bit psychic and Alf whose son finds him a Thai Bride, just made light in some very dark parts of the book. The story follows Lizzie as she follows Sally and as things start to unravel all around her.

I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel. I thought that McLeod’s prose was perfect and in some parts very poetic, and I don’t mean because of one of the characters poems about Pickled Onions, and had me totally spell bound. I thought the way it dealt with gender, sexuality and a family breakdown was honest and poignant without being overly dramatic (there is a good sprinkling of drama in there though). I just thought it was an incredibly accomplished novel and was much deeper and darker than I was expecting, I thought it was going to be very funny from the blurb which it is. I laughed at several parts out loud on particular scene which I won’t mention actually left me laughing out loud for about five minutes.

I saw Karen McLeod read some of her favourite book; the very funny and poignant ‘Crocodile Soup’ by Julia Carling (which I read last year) who she said helped her to write. I thought this was an equally wonderful book, in fact I think they should sell the two together like sometimes Vintage do, I think they would be a perfect pairing.

What a brilliant start to my reading year!

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