Confession: I couldn’t read Diamant’s The Red Tent. I am the only person I know who has not been able to read this book. I tried. I really did, but something about the first page bothered me … particularly this underlying sense that women needed to take over a patriarchal grand narrative in order to prove some point which I guess I just didn’t think needed to be proved. Call me an ‘un-feminist’ if you want, but it grated against me and I stopped reading at the end of page one.
It didn’t stop me from perservering with Diamant and I thoroughly enjoyed Day After Night for its haunting tone and the originality of its context – Atlit, Israel, 1945. What’s not to love?
When I noticed Diamant’s latest book on the shelf I was thrilled. I sat down and read it all in almost one sitting, reading until I needed those proverbial match-sticks to hold open my eyelids.
There’s something great about a book that you can’t put down! And The Boston Girl was just this kind of book.
And this is what is so strange … I really did plough straight through this book. I found the plot very engaging and the context quite interesting, particularly the shifts in the role of women in the home and the workforce. So it is troubling that I actually didn’t ‘love’ this book … I think I was troubled by the simplicity – of the characters, of the narrative structure, of the style. The way that Diamant portrays the story of her narrator and protagonist, Addie Baum, I expected her voice to be grander, more powerful, more layered, more detailed. Instead, what I read was a relatively one dimensional account of what was clearly a wonderful life. It just didn’t feel real to me and ironically, there was so much of this book that was real – stellar moments in cemeteries, tingling sexual awakenings and just the hint of artistic fervour. I loved these glimpses of greatness. But they were just that. Glimpses and I needed more.
I’ll keep reading Diamant, because sometimes you just need to sit and drown in a good story. If you need just that then I recommend The Boston Girl to you. If you need more then perhaps now is not the time for this book.