My final #BaileysPrize book and interestingly the one I might have picked first if I hadn’t gone for random selection. Grant is an author I’ve read and liked before and the book with a just post-war setting and family saga to boot really ticks all my reading boxes!
I enjoyed this book and raced through it but apart from being a good read I don’t have a lot more to say. The characters were all fine and the bulk of the plot interesting but after the five other books on the shortlist this just felt a little flat.
It was interesting to read about the change in medical approaches at the very birth of the NHS, and also the, sadly still relevant, battle over the need for new drugs but their expense. I was also a little shocked at the post war antisemitism portrayed – in my naiveté I did think that after the shocking images from Germany at the end of WW2 that this wasn’t an issue in Britain but I am always pleased to learn things and have my assumptions challenged!
The ending of the book did seem out of kilter with the majority of the book but reading an online Twitter q&a with Grant I can now see the point of this so I am more accepting. I suppose that as I am still thinking about this book a week after finishing it that it was a good book and a worthy contender for the Bailey’s Prize but it did feel like any other historical fiction book in many ways and certainly not as stand out as the other 5 on the short list.
I’m now weighing up my thoughts on all 6 books and trying to decide which one I really want to win the 2017 Bailey’s Prize. I’m also tempted to go back and read all of the longlist to see why it was these 6 that made the cut!
As none of the books that arrived in by #BaileysPrize shadowing box were books that had currently featured on my “to be read” pile I have approached them all with some level of caution – I might be reading well out of my comfort zone after all!
This level of trepidation rose when the fifth book I read was Adebayo’s Stay With Me but this time because of the Nigerian setting – one of my favourite books of all time is Half a Yellow Sun by Chimomanda Ngozi Adichie and could any other Nigerian set book live up to the standard of that one?
In brief the answer is yes – this was a wonderful book that for the most part managed to capture both the wide scope of Nigeria and the intimate setting of one couple’s marriage. Yejide is desperate for a child – as it seems are her whole extended family and from this starting point an intricate tale that keeps you on your toes unfolds.
I’m not going to say more for the twists and turns, which are all believable and well written, are what make this book and I do think that coming at it with no ideas makes the best reading experience.
My only wish for this book is that perhaps sometimes there was more of the background story – I’d love to have known more about the politics driving the plot in so many ways, however with this would have come the loss of the intimate tale…
I loved this book and I hope it does well at the Bailey’s Prize on the 7th June – it is stunningly well written, thoroughly readable and has some great discussion points for book groups. Need more convincing? Ayobami Adebayo is a graduate of UEA’s Creative Writing Programme so there is a local link!