3 out of 5 stars
The narrator of the book is currently expecting her second child, with her partner, Johannes. This second time around in her life is causing her to contemplate the relationships that she had with her late grandmother and her mother, as well as the effects of having a second child will have on the bond she has with her daughter. To better comprehend the complexity of being a parent and a child at the same time she spends time in the Wellcome Trust library reading various books. Whilst she is in the library she discovers and reads the works of Wilhelm Röntgen, and the X-Rays he discovered, and about Anna Freud, daughter of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s and John Hunter, the pioneer of modern surgery.
There was a lot that I liked about this book; the recollection of her childhood with her grandmother and the time that she spent there and her looking after her mother at the end of her life and how she sees her kinship developing with her own children make for fascinating reading. She has a beautiful way of writing too, it is sparse and yet eloquent.
However, I thought that the wandering off into the realms of Freud and the other medical practitioners really didn’t fit with the rest of the story for me. I get the psychoanalyst link to Freud with her grandmother, but it distracted from the story. Greengrass is definitely an author to watch though.
This is one of the books longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. For more details about the other books on the list and to find out more about the prize click here