The Gingerbread Woman by:

The Gingerbread Woman

Our Price: €11.07 (£8.99)
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 to 3 months

Publisher: Headline Review
Release date:
Media: Paperback

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Editorial Review

In The Gingerbread Woman, Jennifer Johnston again demonstrates her ability to create memorable and affecting characters. Clara, who at 35 makes her living doing "odd jobs for newspapers", is recovering from a serious operation and spends her days wandering around the cliff tops at Dublin Bay. Like the The French Lieutenant's Woman, she stares out to sea, trying to rediscover the direction in her life. One rainy afternoon, she encounters Laurence (Lar), a teacher who has run away from his life in Northern Ireland as he tries to come to terms with a family tragedy. The novel describes how these two unconventional people form a fragile friendship.

Alternating the narrative voice, Johnston lets their stories unravel gradually. Both characters are trying to come to terms with loss and the novel examines the contrasting ways they cope: Clara is self-depreciating and humorous but can't shake off the knowledge that haunts her; Lar is bitter and coiled, bottling up his pain in an ever-present anger. Johnston has no difficulty in keeping the reader intrigued as the plot is never a foregone conclusion.

The Gingerbread Woman is a short book but not a light read--it investigates loss, tragedy, loneliness and apparent hopelessness but does not weigh the reader down in doing so. It also considers the complexities of emotions not always recognised or voiced and their impact on everyone involved. This is a book that lingers. --Christina McLoughlin

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