Sunday, 26 July 2015

Book Review: Walking Over Eggshells by Lucinda E Clarke


Synopsis (from the author): Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a "Walter Mitty" clone who took her to live in many different countries. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. 

At one end of the scale she met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and for her television programmes. At the other end, she climbed over garbage dumps, fended off the bailiffs, and coped with being abandoned in the African bush with a seven week old baby, no money and no resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. 

This book will make you laugh and cry, but also it also explains the damage being brought up by a mother with a personality disorder can inflict on a child. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and hopefully it will inspire others who did not have the best start in life either. All names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent - and that includes the author as well!

Review: ** spoiler alert ** I'm definitely not one for reading stories about abuse, though I accept many stories would have much less impact as a result.

The book I am about to review was harrowing, with a parent who seemed to have no redeeming qualities at all.

The main character, Lucy, goes from life crash to life crash, sometimes on her own, sometimes with the man in her life.

Although just over two hundred pages, readers should take care to read the book properly. If you skip pages, it would be easy to miss things. In this review, it may be virtually impossible not to give out spoilers, so that's how this review will be presented.

From its opening pages, Lucy is treated as nothing by her mother. Well, perhaps not exactly nothing. It would be a wonder to know what her mother would do with her time if she did not have Lucy to direct her attacks towards.

The book shows Lucy from a young age to a middle aged woman, and not once does she appear to have gotten any love from her mother. As I read the book, I thought I would have gotten desensitised to the mother's actions, but thoughts were along the lines of, Come on! This is your daughter! Try and be nice for once!

If this was a work of fiction, one might say that the mother was a one-dimensional baddie. But there comes a reveal near to the end that shows Lucy's mother might - just might have had a reason for all this behaviour.

It seems that if Lucy was thin, her mother would call her a stick insect. If she was fat, and in one scene she is, and her mother calls her out on it:-

"Lucinda, you are a fat girl and you will always be a fat girl."

This shocked me, but did not surprise me. However, I know all too well how sensitive women can be about their weight. I just couldn't imagine saying something like that to a family member, or indeed, to anyone I care about.

The story moves through different places - some I know, others I just have an awareness of.

From Dublin, the place of my mother's birth, through to Cheltenham - not a million miles away from me...then onto several countries within Africa including Libya and Botswana.

What's the reason for all this country hopping? There are valid reasons, but I advise you read this book so as not to give it away!

One of the things I absolutely loved was the naming of Lucy's car - Domino. There's a scene where Domino is in desperate need of a new battery (God, I've been there) and yet the hills in Bath (love that place) provide a solution. I believe you could have a 200 year old car with no battery and yet you would still be able to ignite the fuel to get and keep it going, such are the hills in Bath.

This story would risk falling on its face if not for the delicate humour placed throughout the book. Another memorable scene was where Lucy's husband karate chops a doorknob from its housing, and Lucy has to carry it in her bag at all times in order to open the door!

It's very difficult for me to review this book and give it any sense of justice. After all, this is a person's LIFE - who am I to review it or critique it effectively?

Hopefully, what I have done is give you a flavour of what is contained amongst its pages.

It's a wonderfully written book that sweeps you along with this girl, who in my view is a hell of a fighter, and there isn't a dry chapter in the whole book. Now that takes some doing.

I applaud the author for creating such an engaging book, but also heart wrenching at times. Still, I found I could not pull myself away from it.

It's definitely a five star book as far as I'm concerned. I'm sometimes told I am a little too enthusiastic with praise for authors. Not true. I will call it as I see it.

Don't Walk Over Eggshells to get this book. Make a stampede. It's excellent.