Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

‘Twelve different people, twelve different stories.’

What a glorious novel this is: the interconnected (sometimes in surprising ways) stories of twelve very different characters. All born female, mostly black and British, they tell of their lives, loves and families. They tell of their challenges, too, of trying to overcome stereotypes, of trying to find their own place in the world.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened this novel. Reading Booker Prize winners is a bit of a lottery for me: some books I’ve loved, others have left me cold, wondering what I have missed. This book, though, would not let me put it down. So engrossed was I in reading these stories that I didn’t notice how limited the punctuation was. So engrossed that I didn’t need punctuation.

This is one of the few novels I’ve read recently where the ending seemed less important than the journey towards it. While I liked some of the characters more than the others, each of them became real. I loved the way in which Ms Evaristo entwined the stories, had me learning about a previous character’s past while in the current character’s present.

Different struggles for each character, different generations seeing different aspects as being more important. For some, their parents have sacrificed much to try to enable their children to succeed. Others are irritated that their parents can’t leave the past (history and customs) behind.

And the ending? Somehow it is just perfect.

I loved it.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith