“You have filled that gap, that empty space left by all those people I have lost. You have filled the minutes in the day when I used to stare, in the manner of Auntie Nina, into the middle distance and pretend I was Someone Else. The hours at night when I used to lose myself in the pattern of the curtains. You have filled me with emotion, worry and love, so that there is not room for much more right now.”
Author: Sophie Duffy Published: 2011 Pages: 319
The Generation Game revolves around the protagonist Phillipa Smith. Phillipa has quite an ordinary life; when she was born her mother moved to Torquay to get away from the drama of London and the two begin their life together just muddling through. Helena is not the most maternal woman, but does her best, this is, until Phillipa is seven years old, and Helena decides that a new life in Canada (without her daughter) is calling for her. Now, Phillipa is forty and has a newborn baby of her own. She reminisces on her life, what she did, the choices she made, the people she met, and the mistakes and triumphs of her life so far. Her musings of her past are what brings her current life into perspective and makes her remember everything she is grateful for having, even if sometimes, she felt as if she had nothing at all.
I’ve read a few books from Legend Press since receiving novels from them, and I have to say, The Generation Game is potentially my favourite of theirs. Duffy’s writing had such as familiar and comforting feel to it, like a hot water bottle or cup of tea in a book. I loved all her characters and their relationships with each other, they were plausible, honest and relatable, something which I think is a hard feat and not often achieved by authors. Duffy, however, really triumphs in her ability to capture ordinary people in their ordinary lives.
I loved how messy Phillipa’s life was. That may sound like I’m insulting her life, but what I mean is that it made it so believable. Nothing about her life was perfect and it was only when she gave birth to a little girl that she realised her life was perfectly imperfect. She certainly had her fair share of ups and downs, but again, that made her all the more endearing. Despite not having a conventional family, or other privileges, like some of her friends, she still managed to accomplish everything she set her heart to.
The ending for me was a bit of a weird one; obviously I won’t write any spoilers, but I thought there were enough twists and turns in the book without the final revelation. (Although in hindsight, maybe the revelations actually helped explain some of the characters’ more questionable choices.) Also endings are always difficult, and you’re never going to please everyone!
Overall The Generation Game brilliantly captured the mess that is real life and kept me enthralled just by being so plausible. I would certainly read anything else that Duffy writes and I applaud her ability not to get sucked into the appeal of writing a far-fetched and dramatic story, and instead, just wrote what we all find familiar instead.
Thank you to Legend Press, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.