Thursday, 3 December 2015

Review: A Wicked Old Woman by Ravinder Randhawa

Today I’m the latest stop on the ‘A Wicked Old Woman’ Blog tour – don’t forget to check out all the other stops to find out more about the book!

Publication Date: October 24th 2015 (this edition)
Publisher: Matador
Length: 242 pages

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Drama. Masquerade. Mischief.
A sharply observed, witty and confident novel. Linguistically playful, entertaining and provoking.
In a bustling British city, Kulwant mischievously masquerades as a much older woman, using her walking stick like a Greek chorus, ‘…stick-leg-shuffle-leg-shuffle…’ encountering new adventures and getting bruised by the jagged edges of her life. There’s the glamorous rebel who rescues her after a carefully calculated fall; Caroline, her gregarious friend from school days, who watched over her dizzy romance with ‘Michael the Archangel’, and Rani/Rosalind, who’s just killed a man…
Vividly bringing to life a bit of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

That blurb had me thoroughly intrigued from the outset, and whilst this is an intriguing novel it is a very different beast to the one I was expecting when I started reading.

The novel is a jumbled collection of characters and situations, story threads and backstory that takes a while to untangle so you can see the pattern clearly, and whilst I think this may put some people off, once you get through to that point it is well worth the effort.

The writing is lyrical, in places overly verbose, an exercise in linguistic gymnastics as Ravinder plays with language, thoughts and feelings to create an almost poetical writing style that paints Kulwant’s life in vivid colours.

This can become confusing and frustrating as you try to unravel the meanings and thoughts hidden in sometimes overly complex language. However in places it can be brilliant in its execution.
It can also provide some confusion as the characters are predominantly female and the author has a tendency to refer to characters by pronoun rather than name. That can lead to confusion and frustration as you have to then not only untangle the writing, but also try to work out who is speaking and to whom.

However despite these drawbacks and frustrations I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through this novel. It’s unique, fascinating and complex. I loved watching the characters grow, come into their own and embrace the world around them. I loved the culture, Kulwant’s experiences being Asian in England, the community and the vibrant characters that populate the novel.

It’s beautiful in places, filled with clever turns of phrase and lyrical prose, an interesting novel that is unlike anything else you will read this year.

If my review has piqued your interest don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!
You can find Ravinder across the interwebs

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