Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Review: 'Hideous Kinky' by Esther Freud

HideousKinky.jpgI came back from Barcelona yesterday and fund myself in a terrible position. My book was in my bag and my Kindle had ran out of battery. That meant I had a 2 hour wait, a 2 hour flight and a half hour train journey ahead of me in which I had nothing to read. But thankfully I had a brilliant friend who had 'Hideous Kinky' on her by Esther Freud. After 4 hours of reading pleasure, I was satisfied and the book was finished.


Escaping gray London in 1972, a beautiful, determined mother takes her daughters, aged 5 and 7, to Morocco in search of adventure, a better life, and maybe love. "Hideous Kinky" follows two little English girls -- the five-year-old narrator and Bea, her seven-year-old sister -- as they struggle to establish some semblance of normal life on a trip to Morocco with their hippie mother, Julia. Once in Marrakech, Julia immerses herself in Sufism and her quest for personal fulfillment, while her daughters rebel -- the older by trying to recreate her English life, the younger by turning her hopes for a father on a most unlikely candidate. 
The story centers around Lucy, who visits Morocco with her mother and sister, Bea, and the narrative is from her perspective. Starting the book I was wondering how it would work out, but since I had recently read 'What Maisie Knew', which is also from a child's perspective, I was more than willing to give it a try. And it worked very well. Set in a country like Morocco which is filled with interesting sights and stories, a child's perspective allows for magic where adults might see problems. Lucy is adorable in her naivety, but at the same time she, like all children, notices everything. Of course the vocabulary is too impressive for a 4 year old, but the impressions it conveys are very child like, in a good way. 


I really liked the way Esther Freud wrote this book. I haven't read any of her other novels, but after finishing the book I really felt I had read a warm and true description of Morocco. Yet the story was a bit strange. Although I really liked the child's perspective, the reader looses out on a huge amount of information. The time in which it is set, where they came from, where the father is, none of this is really explained. This has both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, we get a snap shot from Lucy's life, as if we are one of the many people they meet and then move on. On the other hand, it means it is a bit hard to relate to the characters, especially to the mother, who just seems very strange. 


The book is autobiographical, since Esther Freud traveled a lot with her mother as a child. This could explain some of my objections to the book. It is, perhaps, really a snapshot from her life and the lack of knowledge about her surroundings could be very realistic. 


I give this book...

3 UNIVERSES!!!


Overall, the book was great a a travel read. It was quick, not too difficult and it is filled with beautiful images that are sure to pass your time. Yet it did not blow me away and at times I felt that there were plot holes, or at least, plot lines that should have been explored more.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

1 comment:

  1. When I read it I found that it was really quick to read but didn't actually seem to follow a plot as such... http://yearbookchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/hideous-kinky-esther-freud.html

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