Saturday 24 February 2018

Review: The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd by Marie Gameson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Winifred Rigby drifts through life in a world of her own. She works translating Chinese into English for clients and practices her own version of Zen at home. Her conversion came after a spiritual experience on a mountain in Taiwan and it was in the Far East that she felt happiest. Dragged back to the UK by her family for a spurious reason, she longs to return to Taiwan as she doesn't feel at home here, her memories of her past and people are vague and she is regularly surprised by people who claim to know her from school or elsewhere. Her staunchly Catholic mother is appalled by her Buddhist religion and between her and Win's sister they are frequently round her housekeeping an eye on her. To keep certain things secret and private she writes herself notes in Chinese for even the most mundane of tasks.

The little equilibrium that she has at home is rudely disturbed one morning as she opens her front door to a man who she hasn't seen since school, Mr Fallowfield. He had taught her history at school and he thinks that the stories that she wrote as a teenager are the reason he is being haunted by his late father. After a lot of discussion, she agrees to undertake research about how the Chinese worship the dead and to see if she can find the links between Mr Gadd in the story she wrote and the spectres that burden him now. This means reacquainting herself with the echoes of her past life, friends now forgotten reappear and re-discovering who she once was. A chance meeting with a couple from school adds further complexity to her life but also focuses her mind as to what she wants to do.

The first couple of chapters felt almost dreamlike, as you peeked into the life of Win. It is a touching story of a very strange family written in an engaging way, but there is a greater depth to the story as Gameson addresses the issues that all parents face as children grow up and change into adults capable of independent thought and now aren't the person that you remembered. There are a variety of threads that start tangled and are brought together in unexpected ways. So very different to a lot of fiction that is out there and well worth reading.

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