24/04/2012

Nutmeg (by Maria Goodin)

I had not heard of Maria Goodin. This is no surprise, because she has only written one novel so far - and I happened to see it on the pages of The Bookbag, awaiting a reviewer. I liked the front cover and the blurb at Amazon, so I requested it.

The opening of 'Nutmeg' is decidedly odd, making me wonder if this was going to be an entirely whimsical book along the lines of Cecelia Ahern's. Meg's mother is a compulsive and eccentric cook, who has told Meg all kinds of crazy stories about her birth and early childhood. Meg believed everything until her school-friends started calling her a liar.

She can't remember anything herself, so when she realises that her mother's stories are not true, she feels quite lost. She gives up on fiction and grows up to become a brilliant scientist, but she can't quite hide her wish to know something real about her early childhood.

Then when her mother is dying, she has the chance to find out about her past... and it's quite disturbing. She doesn't know what to do with it, but, urged by her decidedly dull boyfriend, she keeps digging.

I thought the book was very well-written; the characters are admittedly a little caricatured, but somehow it didn't matter.

It was quite thought-provoking, too, showing how difficult it can sometimes be to separate fact from fiction, and leaving open the question of whether it may sometimes be best to live in a world of fantasy, rather than uncover what may be painful to live with.

I loved the bizarre stories that Meg's mother told her, and found parts of the story very moving. I was surprised at how positive and satisfying the bittersweet ending was, too.

Recommended.

You can also read my longer review of 'Nutmeg' at the Bookbag site. 

No comments: