Book Review: Thick and Thin by Sarah HarteThere was a suggestion that the suicide clause in the just-passed government bill in Ireland would lead to women feigning thoughts of suicide so that they could have a termination. It caused some offence. Should it be part of any debate on gender, or on women's health? Whether women in general are less mendacious and sneaky than men, or as sneaky, or more, ought not be the point. The suicide clause itself is flawed. It's unfair that a woman or girl who is not suicidal might go through with an unwanted pregnancy, where someone else who feigns suidical thoughts will have a termination. But that's irrelevant too. The clause is flawed. Whether it's better out than in, I dunno. But it shouldn't be an issue at all.
The old philosophical chestnut: If you're legislating against theft, and a starving man steals a loaf of bread from the grocery store, how hungry does he have to have been before factors are "mitigating"? Does he have to be addicted to drugs? Or homeless? Or clearly underweight and malnourished?
Anyway, Thick and Thin by Sarah Harte rings very true on a number of levels. However, its author has shown a startling prescience in dealing with both banks and the issue of women's health in the novel. Harte captures the late teens and early twenties college life of the early 90s, replete with the insecurities of its social elements. As the story unfolds, there is a rich mixture of stuff going on, such as bereavements and marriages before a leap of nearly two decades to the near-present.
I read a quote from GK Chesterton. Something about liberals reserving the right to continue making mistakes, and conservatives preventing mistakes from being rectified. It seems to apply to some of the views espoused in this novel.
I don't read women's fiction an awful lot, the last thing probably being The Devil Wears Prada. I found the protagonist of that book to be whiney. She ought to have been extremely whiney, but Stop Whining! She only once or twice mentions how she is working sixteen and twenty hour days, every day. Little things like if she's caught using her Hotmail at work, she'll be fired? I'm sorry - the fact that she can access it at all at work is a wonderful gift, with all the firewalls everywhere. She gets cabs and limos everywhere too, on the company? I don't care if she's getting them to fetch her boss's lunch or the Harry Potter manuscript. She's not on the subway or bus. I mean Pfffff...
Which brings me to Harte's characterisation. All the characters are very organic - almost to the point of paradox. But it's impressive. More "people" than "characters". And a few years back, I would've thought that the conservatism of some of the peripheral characters showed a lack of depth. Now, not so much.
The book cover is a turn-off as it is very chick litty. How and ever good writing is good writing. There are numerous time skips to the past - either in recollection or just going back a few hours or days. In the post-Lost days, which shook up the grammar of tv storytelling somewhat, it's a nice feat.
With ongoing political debate in Ireland (and Chile, for that matter) and seemingly endless discussion in the United States about abortion, and the Anglo tapes and the ongoing global financial meltdown, this buke will be timely for some time.
The book rounds out with humour as well as some touching scenes, with dashes of both Reginald Perrin and Colm Toibin's The Blackwater Lightship. It's all about the fambly! (And banks too!)
Thick and Thin by Sarah Harte: Worth a gander.