I've mentioned The Crowded Bed by Mary Cavanagh before and Mary must be delighted because she's has had some great publicity for the book in this weekend's Times Book review.
To be honest I've got no time for anyone who even hints at a moan about the vast numbers of free books they are sent for review, FREE BOOKS! But that aside David Baddiel is apparently more upset that he's now seen as "British Culture's token Mr Jew" and anything remotely bookish and Jewish is being sent his way.
Phew, what a thing to be vexed about, I'd be quite pleased to be seen as British Culture's token Health Visitor/ Sock Knitter/ Quilter and be sent free books.I'd live with it, probably have a little grumble when yet another breast feeding / child abuse/ dropped stitch / piecing nightmare blockbuster came my way, but I'd manage, and I'd always send a thank you note.
Back to The Crowded Bed, David won't be reading it because although it looks like "a solid piece of upmarket fiction, something inbetween Joanna Trollope and Anita Brookner..." we needn't worry about the rest.
That's all we need to know and I'm delighted for Mary Cavanagh to have been pitched into this territory because the book deserves it, even though David has judged the book by its cover alone which as you know is something I would NEVER do!
This book almost slides into my Reading the Doctor's Writing venture because Mary was a GP Practice Manager for many years and she will know GP's and their world almost better than they know themselves.
I didn't know this until long after I'd read it anonymously and in manuscript form and I had an A4 typed page-turning day that I remember well, I couldn't put this sheaf of paper down.
No cover to judge it by, no knowledge of the author, a completely pure reading experience.
Here's an extract from my notes about the book at the time, I've doctored them slightly for fear of spoilers.
"Mary writes supremely well, her method for handling non-linear narrative is impressive. I never get confused, always know exactly where I am and I enjoy the variety and pace this gives her writing.
Impeccable research lightly imposed on the reader sums up how I feel about all the background. For example the Jewish content is fascinating, enough to interest me and complement the plot but not too much to put me off. I’ve read several books by the likes of Chaim Potok who understandably ‘does’ Judaism perfectly and in fact Mary has captured this same gentle, caring, worrying, over-protective feel to the faith and the way of life it creates.
The medical information is accurate and I learnt something new about the best way to administer a lethal injection and leave no trace should the need arise!
Some very difficult subjects were handled extremely well. Those covered have to be amongst the most difficult but Mary made these understandable and in fact set up circumstances that made it almost inevitable and the nearest to acceptable it is possible to achieve.Safe writing hands indeed.
Novels that offer optimistic outcomes on these situations are rare, this book could offer a great deal of positive encouragement to many"