Title: Sugar and Snails
Author: Anne Goodwin
Publishers: Inspired Quill (23 July 2015)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, LGBT
What’s it about?
This is a story of a woman’s journey of self-discovery.
I am introduced to Diana through the narrative of the life she’s lived, so far filled with insecurities and fears. The story begins in the present day with a confronting scene of Diana self-harming as a result of, so it seems, her partner leaving. The vivid description of her bringing a knife to her arm, after many years of abstinence, caused me to put the book down and almost not returning to it. But I did, because I wanted to know more.
What happened in Cairo? Why is it significant? What is she hiding? Why? What? How? So many more questions asked as I followed Diana Dodsworth’s life journey…from a young kid to a professor of psychology at university.
Diana’s story weaves in and out of different pasts as she held the attention of the reader, slowly and steadily divulging the story of her life. Goodwin has written real characters, not just in Diana but with each of the significant figures in Diana’s life – flawed, conflicted. As the reader, I can empathise with each of them. What are the motivations for parental love? How is one changed by childhood events? Is an adolescent capable of deciding her future? What is the value of friendship and love in shaping a life?
As a therapist, I would have loved to get greater insights and explore Diana’s psyche as she slowly comes to the realisation that she has held herself back and living in a time bubble, and that she is indeed alright. Not that it is indeed the case, or is it? I appreciate a psychological study however may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This said, my reading experience was not compromised in any way. There is enough to maintain my attention and interest. After a somewhat slow and for me, perplexing take by Goodwin in ‘jumping’ across time and events, the second half of the book provide resolutions which showed Goodwin’s skill in weaving all the threads into a coherent tapestry.
Goodwin has created an intriguing story of a person’s life, complex and filled with the confusions of a child, the pain of existence, of irrevocable decisions and the effects on the subsequent decades of her life.
Would I recommend it?
Absolutely. Mesmerising, especially the second half of the book, thought-provoking and sensitively written.
If you enjoy reading real and flawed characters set in a contemporary background with controversial issues (still!) to boot, this is the book for you (and your book club, if you belong to one).
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
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