Soldier Sailor: 'One of the finest novels published this year' The Sunday Times
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Ugaz’s case is all too familiar in Peru, where powerful groups regularly use the courts to silence journalists by fabricating criminal allegations against them.’
Every woman on earth will identify with this book. Every man will learn something urgent to his betterment. It sings with great authority about the wretched entrapment and molecular joy of motherhood...a radiant and fearless work of universal import" Saying mothers need ‘me time’ is like saying homeless people need homes. You need to give mothers me time. Someone has to mind the baby.” As Soldier asks: “Who mothers the mothers?”
At the same time, Kilroy depicts the dangerously fierce love a mother feels for her child: 'We all go bustling about, pushing shopping trolleys or whatever, acting like love of this voltage is normal; domestic even. That we know how to handle it. But I don't.' This love is intensified by some of the heart-stopping moments encountered in the course of an ordinary day or night - a bumped head, a dropped knife, refusing to eat, raging fevers, frequent meltdowns. As Soldier remarks, 'this was freelance motherhood: struggling to contain your screams while struggling to contain my own, which were louder and angrier and scared us both.' It had me remembering the utter loneliness of mothering a newborn and emphasising with Soldier’s love, fears and anger. The rage that she felt at her husband and his ability to leave and go to work and his inability to "help" care for his son. Wowsers! Reading this book was my Mother's Day treat this year, a whole 5 hours to myself with Claire Kilroy's story of motherhood, how it catapults you into a world of fear and love and overwhelm and pride and exhaustion and joy pain and devotion and trauma and connection and resentment and obsession and confusion and shame and judgement and never-ending, never-ending, never-ending.....
How would I describe 'Soldier Sailor'? Only as the most intense expression of new motherhood I've ever encountered. This account, visceral and unwavering, puts that experience on a level playing field with any endurance test ever undertaken and really triumphs in asking how something so natural can be so hard? There are times when I don't recognize this woman who plays with such self-possession. She is something that I have faked. She is William Tyne's daughter, I supposed; his idea of her. I put her forward when I am performing so that he will approach me. I strive to make her taller than she is, more graceful, less unsure. I don't think other people have to try so hard in their lives. Or do they? Are we all living like this? So close to this mesh of nerves? Contrasting this, however, are the odd lines that feel lifted from a parenting book and lose the confessional, lyrical touch that Kilroy has clearly perfected. "Studies show that screens before the age of two impact on a child’s development", the narrator tells her husband mid-argument, which after all the honesty and raw emotion of the novel simply doesn’t feel believable.Claude didn’t sound every note. He must’ve been playing from memory. There is an unguarded quality in musicians unaware of listening ears. Intimate, hearing the piece like that, played for no one, played from far away, the sound escaping onto a stairwell presumed empty. Sheherazade spun out her tales over a thousand and one Arabian nights. Her tales were her demand for life: I deserve to live so long as I can unravel such intrigue into the world. do not kill me now. Do not strangle me at dawn. Unflinching and honest - a book about the fierce love of a mother for her son. Every mother has been there - I smiled at the descriptions of toddler group and swing park politics - and we have all come out of the other end older and wiser. A novel every new father should read!
The early years of motherhood are ironically a barren part of the fictional landscape, with precious few examples that might have opened Kilroy’s eyes to what lay ahead of her. No longer. With mordant wit and acute, astute observations, she charts a world familiar to any parent yet freshly painted. For much of 1983 and 1984, Frankie Goes to Hollywood dominated the pop landscape so totally that... ★★★★✩ After a time I moved off, and you broke into two. You realigned yourself into driftwood and stone. I came inside and lit a fire. Sat in front of it and watched it burn. The window fogged up as my clothes and hair dried out. That was hours ago. The fire is nearly gone. But I can still taste the salt on my lips. It is a dry and stinging substance and it is everywhere now. It has touched everything that is left. Coated every surface with its sparkling silt.Asked in a 2016 Q&A about her writing habits, she replied: “I wrote the first four novels in a quiet room of my own (or a room of my parents’ in the case of the second one). It all changed with motherhood. I can’t answer that question yet.” This is a very personal letter of love from a mother "Soldier" to her son, who she calls "Sailor". Narrated in the first person the reader is swept along through the early years of motherhood, the sleepless nights, the overwhelming exhaustion, the fear and trepidation. The all consuming life changes. Alongside of the narrator is her husband - the man who responds to texts about their son with smiley face emojis and who, according to Soldier, is totally unable, or unwilling to contribute in any more meaningful way, as he advances his career.