I can’t ignore the timing of this read. The world is rightly up in arms over an unjust killing of a black male at the hands of the police. He isn’t the only one, but his death can’t be ignored.

For those of us that thought we were in a better place than 50, 60 years ago, this has highlighted that we are sadly mistaken. What we call for now is not just for people to be not racist, but for them to be anti-racist. Living life as we are is, some say, nothing more than apathy. We should be educated on race relations so we can educate the next generation. We should be more proactive in creating a more equal society.

For us readers, we should read widely. Read from people that are not like you, read from those that are. Read from not only people of colour, or people from all over the world, but read about disability, poverty, those that struggle with mental health, those of a different sexuality and generation to you. Read things that make you uncomfortable, but also read things that make you laugh. Keep educating yourself, and others. If you have read something recently that opened your eyes up to another person’s experience of the world, then share it and pass it on.

Here is mine.

Girl, Woman, Other is an incredible feat in character development, each lady brimming full of colour and singing with their own individual voice. Living in different decades, living their lives, they each have their own struggles.

I enjoyed the interwoven nature of the stories, written without punctuation it relies on line breaks to tell the story, giving it a fluid pace. If anything I found it easier to read than regular prose.

Yes it is about race, yes it is about women and yes it is about sexuality, but most importantly to me it is about variety. No one woman the same, and nor should they be. Their backgrounds and experiences could not be more different from each other. Each chapter is a window into a life, leaving us with a new perspective.

A review mentioned on the cover describes the book as a depiction of modern Britain. It is not the modern Britain you normally read about and that is exactly why you should.

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There is something truly healing about walking upon cliff tops, the sea in sight; walking on end without any purpose other than putting one foot in front of the other to get through the day.

Ray and Moth’s story is heartbreaking. Made homeless and given a medical death sentence, they embarked upon the South West coast path. All 630 miles of it was theirs when they had nothing else left.

It is so hard to comprehend that anyone can be so close to homelessness; it can happen to anyone. Their story highlights the commonality of their situation and how they are perceived by others. Just a few choice words and they were tramps, rather than adventurers.

I have to say this book resonated with me. After a messy break up, I walked around the Isle of Wight, feeling like I needed a purpose and to give myself an adventure, whilst everyone else I knew was off to a Balearic Island with their fiancés. It was only 70 odd miles and took me five days. I slept in a bed in a hotel and ate at McDonald’s twice a day, I soaked my sore muscles every night in a warm bath, so I can’t begin to imagine the hardship and discomfort of their trip. I only mean to compare in that I similarly found it healing. (Despite the McChicken Sandwiches)

I spent days on my own and I began to enjoy my own company, I relished being near the sea, I hadn’t realised how important it was to me, and I thought alot. I thought about the past, about the future all the while putting one foot in front of the other. When I finished I felt whole again, I had been restored.

I have only done tiny sections of the South West path but I felt in my head I was walking beside them. This book is so powerful, full of sadness but brimming with hope. It made me want to take to those beautiful cliffs all over again.

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Updated: Jun 13, 2020

Virginia Woolf takes you by the hand and walks you through her story one character at a time. Strolling with you through London you accompany Clarissa in her party preparations, before picking up the pace to more of a waltz as you find yourself passing between the party-goers, London's social elite, later on. It is a challenging read, with few page breaks and chapters dividing the prose, yet it is so fluid and seamless I regret it was my bitty commute that broke the magic.

Woolf uses the space to connect seemingly otherwise unconnected characters in a way much representative of life. It is such a concise novel, I'd recommend if you can take it in in one sitting, you'll see the benefits.

In amongst the affluence and celebrative nature of the party, Woolf weaves the darkness of the story of Septimus Warren Smith, a retired war veteran who struggles with his mental health with what we would now recognise as PTSD. Woolf uses Clarissa's character to dismiss the effects of war on mental health, sweeping it under the carpet, reflecting her frustrations with the medical service at the time. 

Seamlessly, Woolf juxtaposes the highs and lows of emotion with the highs and lows of society making for a critical and unsympathetic assessment of society and medical services at the time. 

Writing a novel in the inter-war years, Woolf has confronted issues head on, making her opinions known. I feel like in writing, we all should be doing the same.

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