Saturday, October 22, 2011

Foal's Bread by Gillian Mears Readalong Part Three

The Foal's Bread Readalong is hosted by Danielle at The Book Nerd Club, and this week sees us reading chapters 14 through to the end of chapter 19.  Again part of the fun is discussing aspects of the plot so henceforth there are spoilers.

I found this section of the book the most compelling so far; it sees our female protagonist Noah completely stripped bare.  From the final deterioration and death of her beloved husband Roley, her descent into alcoholism and the ultimate blow upon the bruise comes when her daughter Lainey outshines her own achievements on the high jumping circuit.

The full tragedy of Noah's life is played out in these chapters.  Mears portrays the misery that is alcoholism to perfection.  She is unflinching in the narrative, and at times, I found myself needing to pause in the reading because it is just so sad for Noah.  The self loathing, the self medication and the self sabotage are all convincingly depicted as part of Noah's story.

This is the section where abuse in Noah's past returns to, not only destroy her, but is reaching its malignant tentacles into the next generation, and threatens to shape Lainey, as the young girl struggles to understand and survive her mother's behaviour, remoteness and hostility towards her.  I love how Mears has depicted the relationship between mother and daughter.  It is heart-breaking.  We experience, through simple actions and what goes unsaid, Noah's inability to overcome her own demons and be there for her daughter, and Lainey's utter confusion and need to secure her mother's love.  For Noah this is nothing new, as she struggled in the same way to express her feelings to her husband right up until his death.  The scene where Noah and Lainey are trying to force feed Roley at the end of his life is confronting and moving beyond words.

I still have the final chapters of the book to read, but for me Mears has not put a foot wrong.  I love the writing style that keeps the reader slightly off balance.  In my view the writing style amplifies the emotional impact of the novel.  Again for me (I know the writing style has been a source of discussion in the readalong) the choice of writing style is a stroke of genius, as it has created in this reader at least, a definite sense of cascading or flowing, and at times, bumping along with the story, much like a butter box, set adrift in the fast flowing currents of a mountain creek, on a moonlit night.


  1. Apologies to all for lateness of post. I am away from home and having trouble accessing Internet. By some miracle I was able to retrieve saved post and publish now using my phone, but I will have get around to everyone's posts tomorrow, when back on line. Mel

  2. This section has been much better for me than the previous parts of the book. I still struggle with Noah but I think it is because it is all a bit too close to home for me.

  3. I love your analogy of the writing and the butter box - very perceptive. Hard times ahead I fear.

  4. I'm with you, I love the writing, I find it very powerful and brilliantly structured. I feel like this is getting to the real crux of the novel and coming together in a powerful climax. Difficult reading but I'm really enjoying it.

  5. I hadn't heard of this - thanks for posting.


Comments are very welcome.