Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones, Penguin Books $40 November 2010

Hand Me Down World  by Lloyd Jones, Penguin Books $40  November 2010

Lloyd Jones has written some great novels.  Mister Pip was a bestseller and enjoyed by many.  In Hand Me Down World he introduces us to two nameless women working on the domestic staff at a hotel on the Arabian Sea.  These women have climbed out of the squalor of a North African upbringing.  They share a room, work in the same place, but do not share many details of their lives.  They remain nameless.  The specific question of who one of these woman actually is and which of her secrets  we may not be privy to, will become the crux of this latest novel from Lloyd Jones.

The first chunk of this story consists of reports and memories of this woman, eventually identified as Ines, the first being from her hotel workmate.  Ines has a friendship with a guest which leads to pregnancy and then betrayal.  It is her journey to Berlin and her search for Jermayne and her son that create this beautiful tale. 

We meet street people, truck drivers, and specifically an old Berlin man who has gone blind and employs Ines as his housekeeper and eyes, his ex wife who resiles from being his eyes in his newly blind world, and many other people who shared a piece of time with Ines.

Questions of what is real and how deluded we allow ourselves to be form a key part of this novel.  The journey is delightful and Jones does a great job at creating a patchwork for our minds to stitch together into some kind of truth.

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