Green Grass by Raffaella Barker

Green Grass by Raffaella Barker

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in trade), 376 pages, 2002

Rating: 7/10

Reason for Reading: I wanted something light to read, and the cover caught my eye.

Synopsis: Laura Sale is a 38-year-old woman with two kids and a long-term artist boyfriend who often plows right over her in his enthusiasm for his work. When Laura’s brother offers her a place in the country, she jumps at having a permanent place for a weekend getaway. Soon, the relaxed lifestyle outside of London, not to mention a meeting with Guy, a man she loved twenty years ago, has Laura re-thinking her life.

Why you should read this book: A nice, light, summery read. Barker captures the characters’ relationships and interactions very well, especially with Laura and her children, and Laura’s husband’s artistic (and often childish) temperament.

Why you should avoid this book: There’s not a whole lot going on here plot-wise, and even Laura’s wishy-washy personality makes her midlife crisis feel like she couldn’t be bothered putting full effort into her rebellion. The ending drops with far too neat of a package.

Opening paragraph:

‘Can you balance a spoon on your nose?’

Laura is grateful that Inigo does not demonstrate spoon balancing, but instead contents himself with arranging all the glasses and cutlery on the table into a gleaming circuit, with fork following knife following spoon, each one balanced on the rim of a glass.

Fabulous quotes:

This installation has caused consternation among the officers of the Royal Parks Committee, and Laura had to ask the Arts Council to use their influence in making sure the necessary permissions were granted in time. With less than a month to go until the equinox, she finally summoned the courage to ring them yesterday.
‘Oh yes, Inigo Miller. I daresay we can persuade Royal Parks to relax restrictions for him – think of the publicity it will generate.’ Laura was secretly irritated that it should be so easy for Inigo. He is on a roll at the moment, and is hotly tipped to win the Artist of the Year award next month.

Enthusiasm fuels Dolly, Fred and Laura all the way from Suffolk and right up to the front door of the Gate House, where it runs out abruptly.
‘We can’t get in, there’s no key,’ moans Dolly from beneath a pile of pillows and clothes. ‘I can’t carry all this and there’s nowhere to put it down.’

This is true. Looking around, Laura is surprised by how her memory had pruned and weeded the garden, which in reality is a seething mass of early sprouting nettles and brambles with a few bright yellow daffodils dropping their petals into a small dank pond […]
‘Mum, quick, there’s a goat here, and its udder is massive. Shouldn’t we milk it?’ Fred rushes from the back of the cottage where he has been exploring, his trousers dark up to the knees with wet from the tangled grasses.
‘I didn’t know we were having a goat,’ says Laura faintly.

Also recommended: Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells; Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig.

Also by this author: A Perfect Life; Phosphorescence; Come and Tell Me Some Lies; The Hook; Hens Dancing; Summertime.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

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