Book: Polls Apart
Author: Clare Stephen-Johnston
Summary: The central character is Anna - who is married to the leader of a political party. The country is just about to go to election and their is a great deal of tension for both her and her husband. The book really demonstrates the interplay between the press, PR machines and politics and the lives of real people. Anna is an actress and elements of her past and present start to leak into the press, her relationship with her sister and husband come under strain. The book also deals with the subject of incest/ child sexual abuse in middle class families and the devastating ramifications for victims as they go through adulthood.
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Social/Historical context: The author is a journalist which is very clear when your reading the book. She uses her knowledge of the world of PR and journalism to bring alive the way these machines work and the often devastating impact they can have on real peoples lives. It gave me some sympathy with people in the public eye - especially the wives of politicians who probably had no personal intention of coming into the public eye. Each chapter starts with a New's paper headline or an abstract from an article - which then leads you into the chapter.
Writing Style: I loved the writing style - it was very alive and contemporary. The description of the relationships between characters and the central character really drew me in and it as one of these books where you miss the characters from your life when you've finished the book. There was a great deal of humour in the book and some very funny lines - which lightened the sometimes difficult subject matter.
My Thoughts: I loved this book! Now in my forties there's not many books that keep me engaged and I don't waste time finishing books that I'm ambivalent about. I also love books that tell me something I don't know already or that explore a subject in a way that makes me think and deepens my understanding of an issue. I often choose biographical book. However someone recommended this book to me and I really enjoyed it and was a bit bereaved when it ended. I thought the author dealt with the issue of incest/ child sexual abuse in a way that really made me think about what it must be like to live as an adult when one of the most important and trusted people in your life has violated you. How do you then go on to have relationships and trust other people. A brilliant read that still makes me think!!
Book Reviewed by Rachel Stephen
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