Read Comfort & Joy by India Knight Free Online
Book Title: Comfort & Joy|
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Loaded: 1864 times
Reader ratings: 4.2
The author of the book: India Knight
Edition: Fig Tree
Date of issue: January 25th 2011
ISBN 13: 9781905490738
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 512 KB
Read full description of the books:
I was going with one star until the quite moving ending.
My main problem with C+J is familiarity with the author. Not personal familiarity, but in that I used to read her column every single week and I'm familiar with her life story. This leads me to conclude that Clara Dunphy is one of the most obvious self-interests (in my opinion) that I have ever read.
It shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but I'll be honest and say, yes, it does, especially when I can't stop ticking boxes in my head, for instance: Clara has struggled with her weight, but currently it's down (like Knight); Clara has multiple children from multiple relationships (so does Knigght), Clara is "good at languages" (Knight was awarded an exhibition at Cambridge to study modern languages). It shouldn't bother me, but it does. And just for what it's worth: I don't mind books that have been inspired by your own experiences, for example, ex-dancers writing something like "Black Swan" (I know that's not what happened, but you get my point). However, these details just seemed so unnecessary. There was no real purpose in Clara being 'good at languages', for instance. It was like Knight was tapping those who know anything about her life on the head and saying, "shhhh! This isn't really fiction, it's all about me, me, me!"
But, still, this would have all been okay if it hadn't all been such a smug, scathing take on her own life. And if Knight had managed to come up with a vaguely original, organic voice for Clara. But as someone who has read a lot of Knight's columns, all I could think was that this was essentially five columns mushed into one with a vague plot strand hanging them all together. Clara is essentially India Knight, right down to the voice. Now, I know that it is probably one of the most challenging things for a writer to come up with an utterly unique voice - but between the weird biographical details, the middle-class smugness and the terrible, grating, carbon-copy voice, I wondered if I'd stepped into some bizarro world novel version of The Times.
That's another thing: Clara is all very satirical and cutting when it comes to members of her 'extended' family - such as her ex mother-in-law Pat, or her 'desperate' friends, Tasmin and Hope - but, when it comes to her own, blood family, like her younger half-sisters, Evie and Flo, they were goddamn perfect. While Pat was basically every negative stereotype about old people - racism, homophobia, pathological lies about her family - rolled into one 'ohhhh look at me aren't I crazy?!' Betty-White-shaped cutout. It felt very unbalanced and cheap, almost like using her extended family as a foil to her blood family, to reinforce to the reader how wonderful they were. I know this all sounds very meta and pretentious, but it's stuff like: the humour with Evie and Flo comes from their clever wordplay, or lovingly mad insane jokes, while the humour with Pat comes from what a racist, homophobic, Irish, annoying old person she is. When coupled with the fact that Clara was such a blatant author avatar, it made me wonder how much of these people were made up - which just made me uncomfortable all over again.
Also, the smugness of Clara's narration is almost unbearable. She uses every conversation in the book as an internal springboard for her own views, for instance, when the very middle-class Sophie is babbling on about organic food and toddler lessons, Clara quickly diverts the reader with pages of ranting about how there are no bad or good kids and all this child-rearing stuff is such BS, isn't it? Coupled with Knight's journalistic background, it felt somewhere between an opinion column and a university lecture, hammering home every point to such an extent where I skim-read parts because I wanted to get to the story, not to another ridiculous monologue.
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Read information about the authorIndia Knight is a British journalist. Her novels have been translated into 28 languages.
Knight, a native French speaker, lived in Brussels until about the time she turned nine. After migrating to the United Kingdom, she was educated in London. She was awarded an exhibition to Trinity College, Cambridge, where she read Modern Languages from 1984-1987, before starting her career in journalism.
In addition to writing for and contributing to major British magazines and newspapers, India Knight writes a prominent weekly column for The Sunday Times. She is also a regular guest on British radio and television.
After writing an article in The Sunday Times about her daughter's special needs - her youngest child has DiGeorge syndrome.
Knight lives in London with her three children.
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