The backstory: Repeat It Today With Tears was on the 2011 Orange Prize longlist.
The basics: When the Orange Prize longlist was announced, Repeat It Today With Tears earned the dubious distinction of being one of the "issue" books. At its most basic, it's the story of a father-daughter love affair.
My thoughts: What's lost in calling Repeat It Today With Tears a story of incest is the story itself. Yes, it is the story of a romantic relationship between a father and daughter, but it's far from simple. The daughter is sixteen, and she has never known her father. She's yearned for information about him and has coveted the one book of his her mother still has. She suffers from classic teen angst and low-self esteem in 1970's London, and when she realized she can look her father up in the phone book and actually see him in person, she does. She's sane enough to know she can't tell her father who she is. She invents a new age, identity and name for herself as she pursues her father, a man who merely considers himself lucky to have the attention and affection of a beautiful young girl.
The reader has the privilege of seeing the situation from all sides, and Peile has created a stunning world for her characters to inhabit. She's put an understandable, human face on the taboo issue of incest. Ultimately though, it's a character-driven novel. It's a tale of an unhealthy love/obsession of an insecure young woman. Peile manages to make a seemingly horrific idea (a sexual relationship with one's father) relatable and, more impressively, steers it away from being salacious.
Favorite passage: "My dear, sweet girl, it's all so very simple to you, isn't it?" "Yes," I said a second time, for it was. Even now, at the distance of all those years, it appears just so. All absolutes are simple.
The verdict: Peile has written a stunning novel about a difficult issue. She manages to stip the layers off her characters and creates an authentic, fearless and beautiful tale that transcends it's subject matter. Peile wrote an impressive debut and packed an immense amount of power into a novel with fewer than two hundred pages. I will eagerly await her next novel.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Length: 186 pages
Publication date: It will be published in the U.S. in paperback on August 1, 2011
Source: I bought it from The Book Depository
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