Speaking Of Love
By Angela Young
‘Your stories have relieved me of my madness.’ This quote, attributed to Sally Pomme Clayton, really sums up the story of ‘Speaking Of Love’.
The novel is about the complications of family and love, and the problems caused by the inability of those involved to speak about love. It is also a book about storytelling and as such the structure, with stories stacked within stories, is a little like a series of Russian dolls.
Iris is a storyteller – she tells us her own story, but she also tells us a number of the other stories that run through her like her lifeblood. The stories she tells are also about family relationships, and serve as a counterpoint to the main narrative.
The other main theme of the book is mental health. With Iris, and to a lesser extent, her daughter, Vivie, we see the effects on people’s mental wellbeing of the inability to speak about love, or about feelings and needs.
In many ways this is quite a difficult book to read, with some very dark and distressing themes. But there are also some beautifully uplifting moments, and in the end, it is a rewarding read.
Relief from the darkness which Iris and Vivie both seem to have locked themselves into, ultimately comes from Iris’s former neighbour, Dick, and his son who has long been in love with Vivie.
In bringing these four together the author provides an ending that, whilst left fairly open, is full of hope for the future. At this point, all the stories, both told and untold come together.
Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book.