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Bad blood by Lorna Sage

Bad blood (2001)

by Lorna Sage

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6051223,987 (3.59)51

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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] ( )
  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. ( )
  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 |
Some of the print reviews call this memoir tenderly written, an exuberant celebration, generous. I'm going to say no to all of that. For the most part the author is a sullen observer of miserable people. One reviewer said it described a time in English villages that England continues to run from - that comes closest to my perception. However there are some pertinent observations on women and their lives and the fact that intelligence, education, self determination and books can pull them out of drudgery and self destruction. ( )
1 vote Citizenjoyce | Feb 10, 2013 |
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For Sharon and Olivia
First words
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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Book description
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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060938080, Paperback)

Nobody's unhappy family was ever quite like that of Lorna Sage, whose ruthlessly funny, excruciating, inspiring memoir Bad Blood won England's Whitbread Biography Award. She grew up in the '40s on the Welsh border, in the crossfire between her grandparents, a bitter, bibulous, bookish vicar resembling Jack Sprat and his short, "fat doll" of an ignorant wife. He preached earthy sermons about how one might prefer for a wife "Martha before dinner, Mary after dinner." His wife's "notion of marriage [was] that a man signed you up to have his wicked way with you and should spend the rest of his life paying through the nose." Grandma blackmailed the vicar with his diary of adultery, in which she scribbled vicious comments invaluable to the family historian. She gobbled sweets; he drank, fumed, and helped make Lorna Sage a noted literary critic. There is much more: the vicar's affair with his daughter's school chum, the cosmic impact of Bill Haley and his Comets, Lorna's precocious pregnancy, and the strange way lives ricochet and echo each other. Sage manages to give her rural upbringing a brooding Gothic poignance and the comic force of Cold Comfort Farm. She describes a moment after her grandfather's death in the vicarage, "where everything seemed to be wearing thin and getting see-through, as though a spell were dissolving." But the shades of her clan won't quite fade, and thanks to this book, they're here to stay. --Tim Appelo

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:13 -0400)

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Bad Blood brings alive in vivid detail a time - the 40s and 50s - not so distant from us but now disappeared. It tells the story of a childhood and adolescence dominated by an array of family members.

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