At first I thought it was just a boy, a slight sparrowy figure wearing a cap pulled down low over his face; then he moved into the light and I saw it was an old woman, scrawny as an alley cat, tugging at some burgundy velour curtains to get at the box of my husband's old vinyls half buried under the other junk.
Marina Lewycka became a bestselling author with her debut novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, and her second novel, Two Caravans, was also popular. I read and enjoyed both of them, so my expectations were high for her third book, We Are All Made of Glue. The novel was funny, but not as great as the other two.
We Are All Made of Glue contains similar themes as the other two novels: immigration, displacement, attempts to overcome prejudices, settling into the English society... Georgie Sinclair is an English writer, trying to get over her divorce and look after her son, who his alarmingly obsessed with the end of the world, Antichrist and the evil mysteries of barcodes. Georgie's neighbour is an elderly Jewish immigrant, Mrs Shapiro, who rummages around dustbins followed by a posse of cats. Mrs Shapiro lives in a shabby old building, quite literally a "crazy cat lady". Georgie is sucked into the old woman's life and secret history after Mrs Shapiro names Georgie next of kin when she is taken to hospital.
The novel is not as hilarious as Lewycka's previous ones, and the language and setting are somehow so...English (for lack of a more descriptive word) that I pity the translator who has to potentially translate this into Finnish (as the other two books have been translated).
I guess the biggest problem of the book is that it tries so hard to be funny, but it just isn't. It didn't even make me smile, let alone laugh out loud (like the back cover promised...). Reading it was sticky (no pun intended with the title of the novel) and the sappy, happy ending was disappointing.
Marina Lewycka: We Are All Made of Glue. Penguin Books. 2009. 419 pages.
Guardian: "The Importance of Bonding Exercises"
The Independent: We Are All Made of Glue
Wikipedia: Marina Lewycka