The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The Clothes on Their Backs, by Linda Grant is a story of a first generation American woman's search for her family's past, something her parents have deliberately kept from her. Isolated in their British flat, her parents keep a kind of old-world mixed with fear outlook on life.
Growing up in the 60's and 70's of such parents, the narrator naturally begins to explore her world in a way that horrifies her parents, even if much of it is kept secret from them.
She gravitates towards her much disapproved of uncle and learns of the country and family her father has come from but never speaks of.
Given this premise, I expected what she discovers to be more sensational. Too, much of what she goes through is put forward as it is experienced--happening without much explanation or redemption. There is much in this book that is left unexplored--her parents are never forthcoming in emotion or explanation. She is forced to internalize things through her estranged uncle's eyes.
As someone who likes to read meaning and metaphor into things, this book was less than satisfying. It has a very post-modern feel to it. Even the most repulsive revelations and occurrences are very matter-of-fact, and while the author attempts to close the circle, so to speak, it it not done successfully.