Young Elly's world is shaped by those who inhabit it: her loving but maddeningly distractible parents; a best friend who smells of chips and knows exotic words like 'slag'; an ageing fop who tapdances his way into her home, a Shirley Bassey impersonator who trails close behind; lastly, of course, a rabbit called God. In a childhood peppered with moments both ordinary and extraordinary, Elly's one constant is her brother Joe.
Twenty years on, Elly and Joe are fully grown and as close as they ever were. Until, that is, one bright morning and a single, earth-shattering event that threatens to destroy their bond for ever.
Spanning four decades and moving between suburban Essex, the wild coast of Cornwall and the streets of New York, this is a story about childhood, eccentricity, the darker side of love and sex, the pull and power of family ties, loss and life. More than anything, it's a story about love in all its forms.
My thoughts: When I first picked this book up to start reading it, I had trouble with it. My mind just couldn't wrap itself around the book. So I put it down for a week or two to get to some other reading and grudgingly picked it back up, and started where I left off. Within a chapter or two, I was fascinated and deeply engrossed in the story. I went back to the beginning to see what initially withheld me. I couldn't figure it out. Starting over, I was deeply enchanted with the three main characters (and the rest as well), and couldn't put it down. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. The quirkiness of both the writing and the characters was utterly endearing, and the story really resonated. The love between Elly and her brother Joe is palpable, while their bond tugs at the heartstrings for a number of reasons. Bottom line: I think I put this down because I wasn't prepared for something quite as compelling as this was, and I needed to be in the right frame of mind to really devote my whole attention to it.