Monday, September 21, 2009

They can't get no satisfaction

I’m sure you know a few people who spend so much time and energy bemoaning what they don’t have that they fail to enjoy or even appreciate what they do have.

So the main characters of “The Palace of Strange Girls” by Sallie Day (ISBN 9780446545860) waste their life together.

Meet the Singletons in 1959 England. Ruth wants a bigger house and children who adhere to her strict and rigid standards. Her husband Jack wants a life with his war-time romance. Their daughters want to break free.

After the events of a week’s holiday, the family will never be the same.
The Palace of Strange Girls, on the face of it, refers to the sideshow attraction at the resort town where the Singletons are staying. It’s home to the Tiger Woman whose chance encounter with the youngest Singleton gives her a new way of looking at things.

As Tiger Woman tells Beth, “I always think that scars aren’t too bad. I mean, by the time you have a scar you’re better, aren’t you? It means the cut has healed.”

While Beth’s scars are visible, those her parents carry are not - though they are no less disfiguring.

It’s how each chooses to cope that sets them apart.

And makes the reader think about his own scars.

- Tricia Ambrose

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