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Birding

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472158000

Price: £20

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‘Beautifully written’ Daily Mail

‘[An] empathetic, emotional reckoning’ Mail on Sunday

In a small seaside town, autumn is edging into winter, gulls ride winds over the waves, and two women pass each other on the promenade, as yet unaware of each other’s existence.

In the nineties Lydia was a teen pop star, posed half naked on billboards everywhere with a lollipop between her lips and no idea how to live, letting the world happen to her. Now, three decades later, Lydia is less and less sure that what happened to her was in the least bit okay. The news cycle runs hot with #MeToo stories, and a famous former lover has emerged with a self-serving apology, asking her to forgive him. Suddenly, the past is full of trapdoors she is desperately trying not to fall through.

Joyce, in middle age, has never left home. She still lives with her mother Betty. With their matching dresses, identical hairdos and makeup, they are the local oddballs. Theirs is a life of unerring routine: the shops, biscuits served on bone china plates, dressing up for a gin and tonic on Saturday. Nice things. One misstep from Joyce can ruin Betty’s day; so Joyce treads carefully. She has never let herself think about a different kind of life. But recently, along with the hot flushes, something like anger is asserting itself, like a caged thing realising it should probably try and escape.

Amid the grey skies, amusement parks and beauty parlours of a gentrifying run-down seaside resort, these two women might never meet. But as they both try to untangle the damaging details of their past in the hope of a better future, their lives are set on an unlikely collision course.

With mordant wit and lyrical prose, Birding asks if we can ever see ourselves clearly or if we are always the unreliable narrators of our own experiences. It is a story about the difference between responsibility and obligation, unhealthy relationships and abusive ones, third acts and last chances, and two women trying to take flight on clipped wings.

Reviews

'Dark, poetic, elegiac, thought-provoking and desperately sad - a masterclass in hauntology'
Stu Hennigan
I wish I could write as vividly and wisely as Rose Ruane. A beautiful book full of stark truths about relationships and self, framed in poetry and underscored by perfect analogies that had me nodding along in recognition throughout. The physical world of the book is alive and the internal worlds of the characters are deeply felt, as we are invited into their darkest thoughts and feelings and, in a way, asked to consider and process ourselves. Lyrical and evocative, highly recommended
Evie King, author of Ashes to Admin
This unusual, uncomfortable novel is beautifully written
Daily Mail
Fine, fierce... [an] empathetic, emotional reckoning
Mail on Sunday
'Rose Ruane's second novel is like a memory box filled with sepia Polaroids and letters and trinkets... often funny, more often heartbreaking, but ultimately, cosmically hopeful... Birding is a novel for anyone who has ever asked themselves, "who am I?" or "am I enough?"'
Snack Magazine