Hello Lovely Book People …
I have had the honour of being chosen to be on the blog tour of Dorothy Koomson’s wonderful new book ‘That Girl From Nowhere’ thats out in paperback this week.
I read it when it came out in hardback (I just couldn’t wait for the paperback as I’m a real Dorothy fan ! ) so here is my review and also an extract of this lovely story …
Don’t forget there is also a chance for you to win a Fujifilm instax camera, all details are at the bottom of the blog list. 🙂
Hope you enjoy …
‘Miss Smittson, it’s good to see you again.’
‘You, too, Mr Wallace,’ I reply. I smile at him and shove my hands into the pockets of my combat trousers to avoid having to shake hands with him. I’ve met him twice before – both times I’ve had to do it and both times his hand has been hot and clammy. The images of what he could have done to get it that way were a horror movie that played constantly through my head.
Mr Wallace, in a shabby, too-tight black suit, offers me his hand to shake. I hesitate. The rest of him seems dry and normal, I wonder if he’d accept a hug instead? It would get me out of touching his hand without seeming rude and it’d be altogether better for my mental health. He pulls a smile across his face, sticks his hand out a little bit further. Defeated, I offer up my hand to be encased in his moist, sweaty palm. The touch of him sends a shudder through me and I can’t take my hand away fast enough, but not too fast in case he notices and his feelings are hurt. Maybe he can’t help being sweaty-palmed, maybe he has a condition and it’s not his fault. Maybe the horror movie in my head has got it all wrong and he doesn’t do unsavoury things in his car before he meets clients.
Mr Wallace’s attention strays to the older woman with wavy brown, grey-streaked hair who stands silently beside me. He smiles curiously at us both, waiting for an introduction.
Mum has obviously noticed how reluctant I was to shake the estate agent’s hand so has taken to holding her bag in both hands, rendering them incapable of being shaken when I do the introductions.
‘Mr Wallace, this is my mother, Heather Smittson,’ I say. ‘Mum, this is the estate agent who’s dealing with renting the flat.’
Immediately, Mr Wallace’s face does that thing. ‘That thing’ most people who don’t know my family do: he double-takes, then rapidly moves his gaze from one of us to the other, wondering why the visuals don’t match the words. After the staring comes the perplexed, suspicious frown and, right on cue, Mr Wallace’s confusion develops on his face until he is frowning very hard indeed at us.
We’re in the car park of a beautiful, reddish-yellow-brick, art deco block of flats on Hove seafront. This is going to be my new home, the place for my fresh start. Everything bad is three hundred miles away and in that place called ‘the past’ while everything good is here, and about to happen in that shiny new destination called ‘the future’.
Except little snags like this, a man who is nearer to Mum’s age than mine, giving us his version of Paddington Bear’s hard stare because he doesn’t understand why Mum is my mother and why I am her daughter. To him, it surely shouldn’t be possible.
Mum suddenly needs something from her handbag, and she pops the black leather rectangle open and starts to ferret furiously through it. Clearly what she is searching for is so important the world might end if she doesn’t find it RIGHT NOW. What she is actually doing is her version of ‘Lalalalalala not happening’, which she does every time she might need to explain our situation. If the handbag thing doesn’t work, she’ll simply wander off, pretending that she doesn’t know we’re in the middle of a conversation.
With Mum making it clear with every root through her meticulously organised bag that she isn’t going to be forthcoming, Mr Wallace returns to me. It’s now my job to explain. I’m supposed to say, ‘I’m adopted’. To let him know that Mum and Dad did the whole white parents taking on black children thing well before various celebs made it fashionable. He stares at me, I stare at him – he wants answers to his unasked questions, I’m not giving them. I haven’t got the energy.
That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson is published on 24th March by Arrow, price £7.99 in paperback. Share your favourite photo and its story to #ThatGirlMemories to win a Fujifilm Instax 8 camera.
My Review ….
Back of the book :
‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours ?’ He asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘ I’m from nowhere’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere’ he says.
‘Not me’, I reply silently.
Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies.
Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she’ll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.
As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth parents could be too high to pay …
What I think :
Clemency has just moved from Bristol to Brighton. Clem was born in Brighton but then adopted when she was a baby. She has moved back because her relationship of almost 20 years with Seth has broken up. She is renting a Flat on the sea front with her adopted mum, Heather. Clem’s adopted dad, Don has recently died of Cancer so that’s why she’s staying with Clem. She has never really wanted to find her ‘birth’ family because she’s never felt the need, she’s always been happy with her ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’. However there always was a member of her ‘family’ that she never quite got on with, and that is her ‘cousin’ Nancy. She is a bit of a bitch and she’s always told Clem that she’s not her ‘real’ cousin, so she doesn’t really count. With that always lurking in the back of her head, she decides maybe its time to think about that ‘Other’ family.
She only has one thing from when she was adopted her from her birth mother, and that is a Large box that is painted with very pretty butterflies. She keeps her most favorite photos in there.
Clem is a jewellery maker, she takes rings and necklaces etc and ‘re-loves’ them, makes them into other things One day whilst she’s at a care home talking to a resident there about re-loving her jewellery, she meets a girl that looks just like her. She wonders how this could be, however it turns out that this girl ‘Abi’ is actually her ‘Birth sister’, and so Clem’s journey begins to find and meet her ‘birth’ Family …
Dorothy has written Clemency so well that you really feel for her, I really can’t imagine not knowing who gave birth to me and who I really am, I myself would really want to go digging about to find out exactly what happened back then and why. I also really felt for her ‘Mum’ Heather, having only just lost her husband, she now believes that she is also going to lose her child to her ‘birth’ mother who gave her away all those years ago only to want her back again now.
it’s such a fantastic story about families and past happenings that refuse to stay in the past. It also questions whether things should be left there or revisited and addressed. Quite simply this a truly beautiful story about one girls journey to find herself with all the happiness and heartache that entails.
I have always loved Dorothy’s books, she always has such a knack of getting right into the heart of the matter. I think this one has got to be the best one of the lot, it has such fantastic characters and so many things happening right from the start and with all the small and big secrets that emerge along the way, this is one unputdownable book.
I give this fabulous book 10/10.
Published by Century (Penguin House)
I purchased my copy at Tesco £7.00.