Book review: Room by Emma Donoghue

This was my pick for my Christmas present this year and I was not disappointed!

Room,  By Emma Donoghue is about Jack, a little boy who lives in a single 11 x 11ft room with his ma as he has done for all of his five years of life. As the story unfolds through Jack’s innocent eyes, we discover how it is that he and his ma came to be confined to this room, and how he remains innocently unaware of the rest of the world that exists outside of it.

I don’t want to tell you anything more and spoil the story that unfolds at the pace of a nail-biting thriller. I will tell you, however, that I was profoundly affected by this book and that it was unputdownable (if that is even a word). Emma Donoghue has created an utterly believable plot and characters that are not only believable, but compelling. As the mother of a little boy who is the same age as Jack, and not unlike him, it was both a painful and triumphant read. If you are a student of human nature or the decay of society, if you believe in the power of the human spirit to survive,  if you are a believer in the power of love —or want to  be—read this book. It’s going straight to my list of regular reads! I cannot recommend it more highly!

As author Audrey Niffenegger says of it’ “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it’s over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and the feeling lingers for days.”

I bought my copy at The Whistling Fish bookshop in Robe, South Australia. It’s more than just a bookshop, it’s heaven for book lovers! From the shelves and shelves of books interspersed with quirky decor, to the coffee shop out back, it is the closest I’ve come to the feeling of magic that books inspire for me. I wanted to be there all day. As much as it appeals to me to save a few dollars by buying books online, nothing compares to the sheer joy of picking up a book in my hand, sensing how thick it is, how good the quality of the paper is and being able to flick open to a page and test the style and skill of the writer. The shop’s proprietor, JJ Aitken, has spared no effort in sharing his passion for books. Three tables fill the centre space of the shop and there are small piles of books stacked on them, each pile with a string-wrapped copy of the book on offer and a hand-written review or comment that JJ has done himself. His passion shows in his selection of books and his treatment of them. I’d rather pay a few dollars extra and support his passion, not to mention a local business, and share those few moments of magic with like-minded people in the world’s best bookshop! Go check out his website and see what I mean.

Top ten quirky favourites…

1. the word quirky…and the fact that I have a ‘qwerty’ keyboard…both lovely words to wrap your lips around. One of the ladies in my writer’s group gave me a new favourite phrase this month…’the scurf from her scarf’…say it out loud, I dare you! (©  S Kay 2010)

2. shopping for vegetables…especially in a fruit and veg shop where the produce is piled together in families. I get soooo excited by the lush green celery lying sedately beside the sour pink of the rhubarb (another beautiful word right there). I run my eyes over the sunshine yellow of the little flower-shaped patty pan squashes and can’t help rubbing the bulbous purple-black of the aubergines. The lemons sit smiling alongside their orange cousins and the perky little limes, the apples—a rainbow display—scent the air already tinged with mango sweetness. Is it any wonder I’m a vegetarian?

3. sitting outside (and under cover) during a rainstorm…listening to Nina Simone…in the dark.

4. pouring chocolate cake mixture into the baking pan! Need I say more…the texture, the smell, the colour, the viscosity….

5. shaping a batch of warm bread dough into a smooth, white mushroom of yeasty possibility! It’s grown up play dough…that you can eat!

6. opening a new book…and then, much later on, checking the size of the wedge of pages I still have to read until the end. It’s especially exciting when I love the book and the wedge is still huge…it means there are still hours to spend in an alternate universe. I enjoy the pleasure even more when the book is one in a series that I have enjoyed or it’s one that I’ve read before. I re-read the following books frequently: Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers), The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffeneger), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), the Twilight books (Stephenie Meyer), The Book Thief  (Marcus Zusak) and the Monster Blood Tattoo series (DM Cornish)…and the Bible.

7. the perfect cup of tea at the perfect temperature—hot enough to burn your throat, but not hot enough to burn your tongue—preferably from a teacup…what style of teacup is too complicated to explain, but I know one when I see one. And the tea tastes best when it has been poured from a tea pot, and is followed by a second cup. When I die they will find that, where some people are made up of 70 % water, I am 65% tea!

8. the smell of jasmine warming in the sunshine. The only thing better is lying on the grass  (or a green blanket…it must be green) smelling the flower’s sun-distilled perfume.

9. swimming in the dark. I love that moment of slipping into the water and the soft lapping splip of cold water embracing warm skin and the echoing slap of the same ripple as it hits the wall of the swimming pool at the end of its short journey.

10. long-pronged forks and knives with long, rounded blades (like the old fashioned boned butter knives), not to mention soup spoons with deep, rounded bowls and real old-fashioned tablespoons. I trawl through op shops for them and fight the temptation to buy more than I have room for (but come on, at 20 cents each, I can afford a few…dozen…extras)

What are your quirky ten?  Go on, unburden yourself…you know you’ve been itching to tell someone!