Review: Mothers by Chris Power

Read it for the vine cover.Mothers-- bookspoilsChris Power’s stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends – at ancient Swedish burial sites, river crossings on Exmoor, and raucous Mexican weddings. A stand-up with writer’s block embarks upon his last gig. Reflecting on a childhood holiday, a father is faced with the limit to which he can keep his daughters safe. These characters search without knowing what they seek.

Unfortunately, Mothers turned out to be just another book added to the list of beautiful covers with no compelling storyline to leave me rapt. I continually found an arbitrary flow to the stories that made it rather difficult to keep engaged in my reading.

I will say, though, that the first story starts off promising enough with this below passage that captures an intricate character-building moment, without reading like one:

“On my bedroom wall I had a big poster map of the world and in my bedside drawer I kept a sheet of stickers, red and blue. The red stickers were for the countries I had been to, and the blue stickers were for countries I wanted to visit. The only countries with red stickers on them were Denmark and Sweden.”

The author excels at writing detailed imagery and giving voice to specific thoughts and moments, but at the same time, I can’t deny that the characters in the stories feel completely stiff and traped on the page. Essentially, nothing informative regarding a character’s nature was shared – just their distinct thoughts jotted down.

“Who was she really, this woman? She was my mum, of course, but that was only one part, and I want to know all the parts.”

I went into this hoping for multi-dimensional characters I could root for, or at the very least, care for even a little. But throughout my reading, I felt like something went amiss for me with Mothers that I couldn’t quite describe, which was then, funnily enough, put on the page by the author in the following story, when the narrator goes as follows: “But there isn’t any room for them here. Stories need everything extraneous to be stripped away, and Nancy and Kostas, let alone Karla, are extraneous. So are my brothers, who are barely present at all. ”

I found this to be a huge mistake. I’d much rather spend time reading about the people he got into contact with during his summer vacation, instead of wasting pages upon pages describing a made up fantasy game I had zero connection to.

It’s interesting, really, because Power’s clever ways of exploring and exposing his characters felt unlike anything other. I mean, this quote below made me acutely aware of the linguistic skill it takes to pull something off like this.

“The sky was whitegrey and a cold breeze came from the sea, which lay at the end of the avenue. Standing at a crossing her eyes filled with tears, so completely that for an instant she couldn’t see. Spasms hit her body. She wanted to wipe the tears out of her eyes, but couldn’t lift her arms. There had been episodes like this after her mum died. The sensation, so long forgotten, was instantly familiar. She felt ridiculous, but she couldn’t move. She was a tree in the wind, powerless to do anything but endure. Another spasm went through her and she thought she might be sick. She heard a voice and lifted her head towards the sound.
Her vision began to make sense again. She saw her own face, stricken and doubled: her reflection in the lenses of a large pair of sunglasses worn by a middle-aged woman in a long black coat.”

That moment at the end of seeing her reflection in a stranger’s sunglasses felt like such a bright move on the author’s part. I was taken back by the originality of it all and how the writing didn’t succumb to the usual clichés.

“What am I doing in France?’ she said out loud. She repeated it, then repeated it again, placing the stress on different words in turn. ‘What am I doing in France? What am I doing in France? What am I doing in France?’ ”

These little individual moments is the only link that unites the stories together. So I was a tad dissapointed when the disconnect created between those instants and the flow of each story held me back from truly appreciating Mothers.


The Beautiful Book Covers Tag

“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.” 
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The last tag I did on my blog was back in March, when I created part two to my original Skam book tag, so it felt like the perfect time to answer and add a new one to the archives. This tag was created by theheavyblanks on Youtube.

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just scroll down to the books at the end to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

1. Choose five of the most beautiful books in your collection.

The yellow aesthetic is naturally strong in this one.

*Note on the cover of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul: I chose the beautifully fan-made cover by the talented Gillian Goerz, instead of the originally published one.

2. Choose a beautiful book that features your most favorite color.

Pink, pink, pink in all its splendor and glory. I have a whole Goodreads shelf dedicated to my pink covers, which you can check out here.

P.S. You know you’re having way too much fun with a tag when you can’t decide on just one book.

3. Choose a beautiful book that features your least favorite color.

Orangey-brown hues tend to least attract me to book covers, but with the above two I can stare for hours on end at the detailing. With Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am in particular because of those background sentences you cannot help but try to make sense of.

4. Choose your favorite cover of a classic.the-handmaids-tale-bookspoilsThe cover for this timeless piece of fiction can be summed up in one word: grandiose.

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.” 

5. Choose your favorite cover of a children’s book.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls-- bookspoilsI simply had to give this empowering collection a spotlight. I read and reviewed it earlier this year and have been on the search ever since for more feminist reads like it.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, and I would highly recommend it for all ages! You’re never too young or old to start on your path through feminist history.

6. Do you often buy books based solely on a beautiful cover?

To put it simply: Yes. Whether I’m buying or borrowing from the library, the cover plays a pretty big role in my decision making. However, what usually makes or breaks the final cut is the first sentence/ chapter of said book.

7. Out of every book that you own, which book best exemplifies your idea of a beautiful book.

My personal definition of an ultimate beautiful book cover is one that makes me feel wistful while looking at it. Like Noora Sætre below:tumblr_ohcqbqculy1r3ssslo3_500So far the only book that’s succeeded at creating that effect is one I have a long history with: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.Fangirl-- bookspoilsI probably wouldn’t have discovered my love for reading back in 2014, if it hadn’t been for the phenomenal characters Rainbow Rowell created in here. So looking at that cover always makes me reminisce about so many things, including my favorite scenes from the book, which I talk about extensively in my review here .

And that’s a wrap on all my answers for the Beautiful Covers book tag. If you’re interested in answering these questions, I tag you.

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just click on the books below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!