I knew from the first page that I was going to love this book. It’s heavily stylistic but compulsively readable. Broken down into 4 sections and an epilogue, we follow the lives of 12 primarily black British women. There are mothers and daughters, friends and lovers, wealthy and working class, young and old. The stories range in time from 1905 to present day – Evaristo covers ample ground with ease.
We’re first introduced to the effervescent Amma, a successful feminist playwright. Amma is the axis which many of the other stories spin around. Everyone connects to Amma in one way or another: we learn about her business partner Dominique and daughter Yazz, and later we see certain characters as attendees at Amma’s latest play, connecting solely through her art. The interconnectedness is masterfully crafted and it was a joy to read through each of these stories, slowly piecing together a history of black British womanhood.
I felt more connected to some of the women than others, but laughed, cried, and experienced pain with all of them. I was particularly invested in Dominique, who ends up in a relationship she needs to escape from, LaTisha, who falls for men too easily, Bummi, who finds the love of her life but is fearful of what it means, Carole, who rejects her African roots to embrace a posh lifestyle, and Grace, who loses baby after baby after baby in a time when providing her husband an heir is required.
Evaristo won a Booker award for this work, and is currently a Women’s Prize finalist. The accolades are absolutely deserved! It’s a sweeping, grand, beautifully crafted work. If you’re looking for a book to get lost in, this is it.