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Bad blood (2001)

by Lorna Sage

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6501324,920 (3.6)56
From a childhood of gothic proportions in a vicarage on the Welsh borders, through adolescence, leaving herself teetering on the brink of the 1960's, Lorna Sage vividly and wittily brings to life a vanished time and place and illuminates the lives of three generations of women. Lorna Sage's memoir of childhood and adolescence is a brilliantly written bravura piece of work, which vividly and wickedly brings to life her eccentric family and somewhat bizarre upbringing in the small town of Hanmer, on the border between Wales and Shropshire. The period as well as the place is evoked with crystal clarity: from the 1940s, dominated for Lorna by her dissolute but charismatic vicar grandfather, through the 1950s, where the invention of fish fingers revolutionised the lives of housewives like Lorna's mother, to the brink of the 1960s, where the community was shocked by Lorna's pregnancy at 16, an event which her grandmother blamed on 'the fiendish invention of sex'. Bad Blood is often extremely funny, and is at the same time a deeply intelligent insight by a unique literary stylist into the effect on three generations of women of their environment and their relationships.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)

Loved this biography which seemed to combine something like Laurie Lee's 'Cider with Rosie' style with an 'Akenfield' one. Village living, amazing characters and dysfunctional families as I believe all families are. What is normal? Beautifully written, funny and sad. I will pass this book on to be enjoyed and to demonstrate the restrictions and uptightness of the 50s and early 60s, the feel and restrictions of the times. Does anybody else live in a house where the chimney is blocked for two floors by a bird's nest?
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1 vote HelenPollock | Jul 21, 2019 |
I really liked this memoir of the literary critic Lorna Sage’s unconventional childhood in Wales with her parents and grandparents because it is written with such passion and humour. The story tells how, through her academic ambitions and determination, Sage manages to transcend the ‘bad blood’ that has cursed the family, although her escape from her miserable circumstances seems at one point to be threatened, when she becomes pregnant at 15. She analyses her dysfunctional family perfectly, and the characters, especially her grandfather, are very gothic and fascinating. [2011] ( )
1 vote papercat | Jul 1, 2017 |
Winner WHITBREAD Prize Autobiography
Book of the year by 19 writers/mags/reviewers

great book wish there was part 2. so sad that she died at 58. ( )
1 vote mahallett | Mar 29, 2017 |
Whitchurch will never be the same.....
I did enjoy this until towards the end when I felt the unease of a contemporary and became ultra critical. Maybe my fault rather than the writers'. I hope she writes a novel.
  KayHarker | Oct 5, 2016 |
There didn't seem to be much point to it. ( )
  icemoosey | Jan 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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For Sharon and Olivia
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Grandfather's skirts would flap in the wind along the churchyard path and I would hang on.
`One day in a grammar school maths lesson I got into a crying jag over the
notion of minus numbers. Minus one threw out my universe, it couldn't exist,
I couldn't understand it. This, I realised tearfully, under coaxing from an
amused (and mildly amazed) teacher, was because I thought numbers were
*things*. In fact, cabbages. We'd been taught in Miss Myra's class to do
addition and subtraction by imagining more cabbages and fewer cabbages.
Every time I did mental arithmetic I was juggling ghostly vegetables in my
head. And when I tried to think of minus one I was trying to imagine an
anti-cabbage, an anti-matter cabbage, which was as hard as conceiving of an
alternative universe.
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In one of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent years, Lorna Sage brings alive her girlhood in post-war provincial Britain. From memories of her family and the wounds they inflict upone one another, she tells a tale of thwarted love, failed religion and the salvation she found in books.
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