The Winner of the 1997 Saga Prize.
You can always go home again. But sometimes, for some people, it’s the hardest thing of all to do. Anita is one of these people. But after all this time, with her dad dead, she might just be ready now, ready to face her ghosts…
This stirring, unsettling book has it all – incest, suicide, wife-beating, lesbianism, an imaginary twin, sibling rivalry, the works
An unforgettable heroine in Anita
Tackles black British taboos – the sanctity of the Mother; the ambitions & secrets of the black middle class
A great new black British writer in Judith Bryan
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Judith Bryan's first novel, Bernard and the Cloth Monkey won the 1997 Saga Prize, an award for unpublished black novelists born in Britain or the Republic of Ireland. The occasional narrative clichés apart, this is a cleverly-constructed, complex and harrowing account of the psychological trauma brought about by terrible family secrets. When 22-year-old student Anita Moore returns to her "homestead" in the suburbs of London after a three year absence, and three months after the death of her father, Bernard, she embarks on a journey that will force her to confront the past. Her younger sister Beth is housesitting while their mother is away on a cruise in the Caribbean, and Anita finds startling changes both to her sister and to the house, behind which the shadow of her authoritarian father still lurks. Flashbacks to episodes in the siblings' childhood insidiously reveal the reasons for her revulsion and fear, and for Beth's obsessive housework--a means of escaping anguish. As Anita comes to terms with the nervous breakdown which made her leave home, Beth's facade begins to break up and she too recalls the violence of her father and the collusion of her mother--the passive "cloth monkey" to which the two girls hopelessly clung like laboratory monkeys. Bryan explores two linked and damaged psyches in poetic and often dream-like prose. -- Emily OrmondFrom the Back Cover:
“Mummy’s just a cloth monkey. We both used to know that, Beth. Then you started acting like she was real.”
All siblings have their own version of their family, like pieces of a puzzle that don’t quite fit together; this is An’s. It is summer; the hottest for years. Her father, Bernard, is dead and Anita Moore has finally returned to the “homestead”. Everything has changed. Her mother has gone on a three-month cruise. Her sister Beth has put on a couple of stone and become a hausfrau. The homestead itself has been refurbished but the old house, the old order, floats just below the surface, like a ghost.
Through fairy tales, childhood friends and old lovers, a story of treachery, tragedy and shame unfolds. Can An and Beth overcome the legacy of the past, or will they stay trapped in their roles as children of Bernard and the Cloth Monkey?
“Judith Bryan’s skill at teasing out the details of the sisters’ lives and the mysteries of the family relationships make her novel original and gripping. The lively, rhythmic language, which moves between the poetic and the vernacular, is a pleasure to read. A brilliant and thought provoking book.”
JANE DRAKE, 'TLS'
“Bryan keeps a sense of direction as she explores a family history in 'Bernard and the Cloth Monkey'. Powerful material, remembered in flashbacks and dreams, is slowly revealed in the context of a hot London summer. This is an impressive debut.”
JUDY COOKE, 'Independent'
“Thoughtful, well-written, accomplished. She is a gifted writer.”
CHRISTINA KONING, 'The Times'
“A touching and astutely observed account of family life, strong on characterisation”
CHRISTINA PATTERSON, 'Observer'
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Book Description Flamingo, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Very Good condition with no significant faults. Clearly used but very few minor defects. Will look good on your book case after reading but may not be suitable as a present unless hard to find elsewhere SECURE DAILY POSTING FROM UK. 30 DAY GUARANTEE. Bookseller Inventory # mon0002118172
Book Description Flamingo, 1999. Book Condition: Very Good. Very good condition book with only light signs of previous use. Bookseller Inventory # G0006551963I4N00
Book Description Flamingo, London, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: Fine. First Thus. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. A paperback novel in near fine condition. Winner of the Saga Prize. Bookseller Inventory # 048612
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Book Description Flamingo, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. Published by Flamingo in 1999. Paperback, 176 pages. The book has been read and is in very good condition. Bookseller Inventory # 1522
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Book Description Flamingo 1999 Paperback, 1999. Book Condition: Very Good. 176 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 130791