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Booker International Longlist 2022 – More Than I Love My Life

More Than I Love My Life

More Than I Love My Life by David Grossman Translated by Jessica Cohen

Book – 12

Reviewed by BookWorm & Tracy

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: Sweeping story about loving with courage that asks us to confront our deepest held beliefs about a woman’s duty to herself – and to her children. Translated by Jessica Cohen.

On a kibbutz in 2008, Gili is celebrating the 90th birthday of her grandmother Vera, the adored matriarch of a sprawling and tight-knit family. But festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Nina: the mother who abandoned Gili as a baby. Nina’s return precipitates an epic journey from Israel to the desolate island of Goli Otok, formerly part of Yugoslavia. It was here, five decades earlier, that Vera was tortured as a political prisoner. And it is here that the three women will finally come to terms with the terrible moral dilemma that Vera faced, and that permanently altered the course of their lives.

BookWorm’s Thoughts: It was only after I finished reading this that I realised it had been based on the life of a real woman, gathering my thoughts and looking back would foreknowledge of this affected how I read the book? I am not sure that it would have done although it does make events more poignant.

The description sounds like a bleak book and in some ways this was, the details of the torture are not graphic or overdone but they are harrowing. It is scary to think that if she hadn’t believed in her principles Vera’s life and her daughter’s life could have been so very different and while Vera does seem to entertain doubts she never doubts herself enough to have seen her doing anything different.

A tough read but an interesting insight into a place and time I had no prior knowledge of.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 15/20

 

Tracy’s Thoughts: Based on a real person whose story in Tito’s Yugoslavia in the 50s was heart-rending, this is a story of Vera, her daughter Nina, and granddaughter Gili. Vera’s escape and move to Israel leaves her a widow with a daughter, and she remarries to a widower with a son. Gili is the result of the two stepsiblings.

As Vera turns 90, the family goes back to Yugoslavia, to the gulag she and Nina escaped from. Memories and secrets come to the surface, mostly of abandonment and loss.

This is the first David Grossman novel I’ve read, and I plan to read more. Sometimes the story was harder to follow, but I think that’s as much on me as on the author.

Writing quality: 4.5/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: ¾
Plot development: 2.5/4
Overall enjoyment: 1.5/2
Total: 16.5/20

 

Rankings
Elena Knows 18.25
Books of Jacob 18.25
Cursed Bunny17.17
Heaven 16.5
Happy Stories, Mostly 16
Phenotypes 16
The Book of Mother 16
Love in the big City 15.75
More Than I Love Myself 15.75
Paradais 14.75
Septology 12
After the Sun 11.33

Have you read this one? Let us know your thoughts

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