Thursday 1 November 2007

My Happy Life by Lydia Millet

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPublished by Soft Skull Press
Distributed by Publishers Group Canada

Lydia Millet has created a stunning book that leaves the reader surprised by the choice of title. The book begins in a hospital building. A building that contains one solitary soul who has lived a tragic life leading finally to her withdrawal from society.

The book continues with a tour of the main character's life. How she started life abandoned in a cardboard box and was constantly shuffled from place to place. Instead of knowing love and kindness, she experienced only spite, indifference, and worse. The events are sometimes shocking, sometimes deeply saddening, and never fail to reach the heart and soul of the reader.

I adored this novel. It was my first experience with books by Lydia Millet though I do have Oh Pure and Radiant Heart on my bookshelf waiting for me to discover it.

I am unsure what I expected from this book. When I saw the title, I had imagined it would be perhaps a feel-good story, or maybe perhaps if the title were meant in sarcasm, it would be something along the lines of the Adrian Mole diaries. I was so off the mark.

The author pulls no punches and opens with a scene that is so surprising, shocking and unexpected that I thought the book couldn't possibly continue on that level. Again, I was so off the mark. As I continued to explore the pages, the events continued to touch me in ways that so few books do. The experiences the character had to face are terrible and seemingly endless. What stunned me most is the fact that the character seems to think nothing of them, and simply believes that this is how life should be.

One of the memorable moments for me, was when upon being struck by a car, and having one of her feet crushed as a young girl, the character feels the need to apologise to her foot until she feels it has forgiven her. I can't even begin to explain the extent of the sadness I felt during that scene as I realised that this character believes that everything is her fault. I just wanted to reach into the pages and hug her so tightly. We never learn the name of this remarkably strong woman, and yet she still affects the reader on an extremely deep level. The content of this novel will linger on long after the last page is turned.

A brilliant, moving novel that I think has become one of my favourites. Read it. You won't be disappointed. Don't believe me? Try an excerpt

Author's website:


Jeane said...

Sounds very good! Another to add to my TBR (I like the idea of your indexes. Maybe when my blog is bigger I'll add some to mine, too.)

Charlene Martel said...

LOL yeah, it had to be done. There are at least 30 reviews to be added soon and hundreds yet to come. A few people have been asking for an index of some kind so I decided this week was the week.

It means extra delay on getting the newer reviews up but I am sure people won't mind once they see that the site is easier to navigate.

(I hope.. )

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