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My Real Children by Jo Walton
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My Real Children

by Jo Walton

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6225123,579 (3.92)70
  1. 30
    The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (amysisson)
    amysisson: In both of these books, a single moment and decision can take a life in two completely different directions.
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» See also 70 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Nothing happens.

I'm not even kidding. Zip. Zilch. Nada. We go through Patricia's boring, humdrum life not once, but twice. Each possible life is equally dull and boring. Add in a heavy dose of preachiness, and this book is an absolutely interminable slog through mind-numbing dullness. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
I found myself reading a story not unlike Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, but instead with an English woman living two parallel lives in two parallel worlds. I really enjoyed it until the ending made me angry. When her memories intermingled at the end of her life, it was spelled out that she would have to choose between a happier life and a happier world for everyone. Mean! ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
Patricia is very confused. Part of this is because she's in a nursing home with dementia; the other part of it is that she appears to have lived two parallel lives and she's not quite sure which is real. In one, she married the guy, which turned out to be a Terrible Mistake, but the world gets progressively more tolerant; in the other, she broke off the engagement and found the real love of her life, as the world lurched from nuclear strike to nuclear strike with some side notes of looming fascism. In both, she had children, and grandchildren, whom she loves dearly - how could she ever choose between them?

After some consideration at the end I think it's true that there's only one choice either version of her could possibly make, and it's pretty devastating. ( )
  zeborah | May 4, 2019 |
Hello, Kate Atkinson? Your outstanding novel "Life After Life" (2013) has been purloined by Jo Walton (2014). In this variation on the theme of dual livetimes lived by the same woman, Trish/Pat either marries or jilts boyfriend Mark, to set off as many consequences as the proverbial butterfly wing. The primary difference between the two is Pat's fictional international turmoil, including the assassination of JFK by a bomb in a plot conceived by LBJ (!), and two nuclear wars that obliterate Miami, Kiev, Delhi, and an unnamed Chinese city. Trish, who marries miserable Mark, lives in a peaceful, "vaguely socialist" world with a cruel husband.

The writing is warm and domestically cozy, and love is lovely when it occurs in both worlds, especially between mothers and their children. The finest writing comes in Pat's descriptions of her beloved city of Florence, which makes the reader want to hop the next flight. But the similarities between the two books are disturbing and distracting. I suppose Walton's was in progress when Atkinson published, but maybe that's no excuse. ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 1, 2019 |
Patricia is an old lady in a nursing home, and she has memory problems. Meaning that she has trouble remembering a lot of things, but also that she remembers more things than she should. In fact, she remembers living two completely different lives, lives which diverged in a single moment when she decided on her answer to a marriage proposal.

It's interesting trying to decide exactly what I think about this book. I will admit that for quite a while, I felt a little disappointed with it, even though I never thought it was bad. I was, I think, expecting more science-fictional exploration of Patricia's two sets of memories and what they mean, but we don't really get that at all. Instead, we're given the full life story of both versions of Patricia, in alternating chapters. They're both reasonably interesting lives, and both Patricias feel like well-rounded characters. But much of those stories are more summarized than dramatized, which doesn't always make for the most satisfying read. And one of the two worlds she inhabits -- neither of which is our own -- felt quite implausible to me in terms of how fast certain kinds of technology develop. It also seemed, at first, that the contrast between the two lives was making a very unnecessary and heavy-handed statement about how freedom and self-determination and love are much better than oppression and sexism and abuse. Which is certainly true, but not exactly something I needed to be told at novel length.

But as things went on... Well, the tendency to skim over and summarize large parts of both lives never goes away. But the good life vs. bad life dichotomy gets a lot more complicated, and the contrast between how things do or don't progress in the two worlds ends up having a worthwhile point to it. And even if I never got quite as emotionally invested in either of Patricia's families as I might have liked, I did care about both of them. So it turned out to be a much better reading experience than I thought that it was going to be early on, and in the end I am glad to have read it. ( )
1 vote bragan | Dec 24, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lamprakou, IreneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stafford-Hill, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days --
Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke.
The universe winds down. That's how it's made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you'll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

John M. Ford, 2003
Dedication
To Gill Goodridge
This is for my friend Gill Goodridge, who told me stories of her life and kindly allowed me to use some incidents in my story.
First words
“Confused today,” they wrote on her notes.
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Haiku summary
People make choices
History changes round us
Different lives go on.

No descriptions found.

It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev. Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War, those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?… (more)

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