I have just finished reading Union Street by the British author Pat Barker. She is very well-known for her trilogy on the effects of World War I, called Regeneration ( after one of the three books, the other two are called The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road), I strongly recommend these too.
This is her first novel, published in 1982. The novel is set in Union Street, street home to the seven women who are the protagonists , neighbours, and each of them, name to the seven sections of the novel:
- Kelly Brown: preteenage girl who is raped.
- Joanne Wilson: factory worker pregnant before marriage to a boyfriend who would not marry her.
- Lisa Goddard: pregnant to her third unwanted child married to an alcoholic man that beats and steals her.
- Muriel Scaife: married to a young dying husband whom she loves.
- Iris King: mother to all of them, has her own teenage daugter taken to get an abortion. As all mothers, is both loved and hated.
- Blonde Dinah: old prostitute.
- Alice Bell: 80-year-old lady who leaves her house on a winter day when she is about to be taken to an asylum for the sake of dignity.
As you can see, it is not light reading nor chick lit, the novel is set in a Northern British city during the miner's strike in the 1970s. It represents the harshness of life in a city beaten by poverty and unemployment. Through these women, she represents society and also how social hierarchy was established at the British homes at that time without victimizing. For me, it has been emotionally exhausting, because of the issues that it treats. Nevertheless, she is a great author and you should read her once in your life.
Did you know her?