In which I write my first blog review....

Left alone over the weekend I finished Sharon Osbourne’s second book ‘Survivor’ which I may or may not come back to muse upon at a later date; it was eye opening to say the least, although not as ‘enjoyable’ as ‘Extreme’, and then devoured ‘Private Papers’ by Margaret Forster. This one took me rather by surprise; I found it hard to get into at first and wondered whether it’s seemingly choppy narrative would mean it would be one of those novels I ploughed through purely because I hate to leave a book unfinished. Luckily this was not the case.

‘Private Papers’ is a well-crafted novel following the lives of one family as seen through the very different eyes of a Mother and her oldest daughter. The story begins with Rosemary, the eldest of four daughters coming across her Mother, Penelope’s, ‘private papers’; her version of the family history. Whilst Rosemary agrees with the facts, her interpretation is wildly different and she begins to tell the story, the way she sees it so what we have is Penelope’s story interrupted almost by an indignant Rosemary wishing to set the facts straight and telling us the same story from a different angle. Both Penelope and Rosemary are strong, well crafted characters and their contrasting viewpoints make utterly compelling reading, although the sudden switches in narrative are a little unsettling in the beginning.

This novel reminded me a little of Kate Atkinson’s ‘Behind The Scenes At The Museum', which whilst totally different in narrative and structure, covers similar themes over a similar time frame and is equally gripping as a study on family relationships. ‘Private Papers’ also demonstrates how easily different aspects of life can be interpreted and misinterpreted. If you like Kate Atkinson, the above mentioned novel in particular then I would quite confidently recommend this to you.

This is the second of Forster’s works that I have read recently, the first being the equally enjoyable ‘Have The Men Had Enough?’ and I can’t help but feel that she really does deserve to have wider acclaim; her understanding of family and the relationships within is spot on and her narrative is at times both touching and humorous. I will definitely be adding her other novels to my already ridiculously long ‘to read’ list.