Monday, June 13, 2011

book review: Repeat It Today With Tears by Anne Peile

Repeat It Today With TearsThe 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

Convinced? Treat yourself! Pre-order Repeat It Today With Tears from Amazon in paperback (it's available for Kindle now!) or from an independent bookstore.

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  1. What a great review! I'm not sure I'll be picking this one up, but I like that you are able to look past the controversial subject matter and focus on the author's talent as a writer. From your review, I can see why it was longlisted.

  2. I am ashamed to admit I hadn't heard of this one. At first, the basic subject matter creeped me out, but as I read your review I became more and more curious as to how the author would play it out.

  3. I just finished another book about incest and think that this one sounds interesting as well. It's a tough subject to deal with, and reading books about this subject makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I do like controversial books that make me think. Great review!

  4. I hadn't heard of this one before-- that's a fascinating perspective!

    I'm not sure I want to read it, but I'm much more likely than I would have been if I just stumbled across it, the characters sound interesting.

  5. I can see how this one can be controversial. I can't say I'll feel comfy reading this topic, but I wouldn't want that holding me back. There's also another book on incest - Forbidden - getting a lot of attention now.


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