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Grace Williams Says it Loud (2010)

por Emma Henderson

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20018133,741 (3.69)1 / 135
This isn't an ordinary love story. But then Grace isn't an ordinary girl. 'Disgusting,' said the nurse. And when no more could be done, they put her away, aged eleven. On her first day at the Briar Mental Institute, Grace meets Daniel. He sees a different Grace: someone to share secrets and canoodle with, someone to fight for. Debonair Daniel, who can type with his feet, fills Grace's head with tales from Paris and the world beyond. This is Grace's story: her life, its betrayals and triumphs, the disappointment and loss, the taste of freedom; roses, music and tiny scraps of paper. Most of all, it is about the love of a lifetime… (mais)
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 Orange January/July: Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson22 não lido / 22KristenMaddox, Dezembro 1, 2023

» Ver também 135 menções

Mostrando 1-5 de 18 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I thought it had a certain bitter beauty to it, the overall sadness of Grace's life punctuated with moments of happiness. I thought the writing style was really enjoyable, & what could have been a very bleak backdrop was transformed into a world of heroes, villains, romance & friendship. I liked it, & I'm glad I gave it a chance. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
I thought this book was lovely and moving. Like Lyrics Alley, it was plagued by odd pacing problems; but after reading up on the author a little, I have learned that, like Lyrics Alley, it was based (however loosely) on the life of one of the author's family members--in this case her sister, who, like Grace Williams, spent most of her life in a mental institution, classified as "ineducable." ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I thought this book was lovely and moving. Like Lyrics Alley, it was plagued by odd pacing problems; but after reading up on the author a little, I have learned that, like Lyrics Alley, it was based (however loosely) on the life of one of the author's family members--in this case her sister, who, like Grace Williams, spent most of her life in a mental institution, classified as "ineducable." ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
"Institutionalize. Try for another child. this one's ineducable. A write-off"
By sally tarbox on 9 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Grace Williams is handicapped; born to a middle-class family in the 40s, the received wisdom is to put her in an institution and pretty much forget her.
Narrated by Grace, to whom the author has given a voice, we read of life in the grim asylums of the past. But there is magic too as she forms a friendship with another patient - Daniel, a debonair epilertic who can type with his feet - that turns to something much stronger
A novel that has you reeling with the awfulness of life for the handicapped in 60s and 70s; and yet, as the novel moves into modern day 'Care in the Community', something almost seems lost for Grace in her bright, sanitized, busy world complete with carers. Grace doesn't emote much, so what she thinks is uncertain; her feelings are rather expressed through actions - tantrums or talking to herself. But the emotions between her and Daniel are clear and very beautiful.
Compelling read. ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
My tutor told me, at the start of my very first Creative Writing lesson, that 'we are a narrative species'. That is, when we see something or someone, we can't help but wonder about the story behind it or them. There's a theory that mankind's creativity began during the first ice age he was a part of, when very long winter nights led to the need to create in the cave until the blizzard died down. Possibly that's why Scandi crime dramas are so bloody long.
Certainly, it's unarguable that we make up stories about the people we see. Occasionally, sitting in a cafe looking at somebody with a quirky scarf, interesting hat, badger on a stick, or just an idiosyncratic way of eating the yoke of their fried egg, possibly by sucking it through a straw, we might be tempted to populate their history.
One wonders if Emma Henderson was sitting in a cafe, saw somebody out with their carer, started to wonder what the life of that person was like up to the point of that latte, then went home and wrote it down.
That would be consistent with her attending at least the first lesson of a creative writing course.
Having finished reading this book, I wonder if she finished the course.
If you are going to write meaningfully about somebody who has spent most of their life in an institution, any institution, one would hope that you would bring something fresh to it, write about the experience in a way that unlocks the secret life of an individual in a conformist environment.
Or, you could just assemble a crude bloody tick list of generalist assumptions about post-War mental health care and write around that. Peeling paint, ramshackled accommodation, crude therapies that have now been entirely discounted as helpful, sluice rooms, baths, toilet mishaps, beatings from staff, beatings from patients, uncaring staff, uncaring sadistic staff, uncaring perverted sadistic staff, uncaring perverted sadistic staff who sexually abuse patients, small moments of joy, the occasional 'character', the odd cultural reference to show the passing of the years, the decades, the guilt of the family that institutionalise their child, an unfeeling administration, a lack of understanding, a trip to the seaside and, of course, a stern and firm matron.
One can almost picture the off-brown/green of the peeling paint on the walls of the wards.
So, next up, language and style. You are writing about a girl who becomes a woman who has disabilities. No problem, even if this is all in the first person. So the thing to do is make the language quirky and playful, as twitchy as a limb not under control, language that fits, in both senses, and remains child-like even in adulthood, the growth of vocabulary stunted.
Being a first novel, it's also crammed with every bloody phrase and image that has been toted around in the author's notebook for the past decade. The problem is, these bubbles of invention are self-evidently shoehorned in, and the result is cobblers.
To be fair, it's not all about suffering in the grim institution of 'The Briar'. Sometimes there are grim flashbacks to Grace having a crap time at home with her overwhelmed family, one of which leaves home to become an aid worker. And that's the most subtle character development.
Life in post-War Britain was, apparently, fucking grim. Judging from the black and white photographs that I and, by the looks of things, the author has seen, everyone was dressed in layers of wool and overcoat. Overcoats were a big thing. And they were big overcoats. In fact the only thing grimmer than life in post-War Britain was life in post-War Britain in a state institution. And the grimness is troweled on, relentlessly. Put it this way, it's only half way through the book when the poor sodding inmates of 'The Brier' get decent overcoats. Yes, exactly.
Irritating and crude by turns, this attempt to create an 'against the odds' romance is heavy handed. This could have been a good story, might even have been a great story, but it doesn't quite come off, which is a great shame. ( )
  macnabbs | Mar 23, 2014 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 18 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Grace Williams is a spastic and a mental defective – that's what they called her at the Briar Mental Institute, where she was sent to live when she was 11. Emma Henderson's first novel is Grace's story, suggested by the life in care of Henderson's own sister. Grace's disability is from birth, exacerbated by polio when she was six. At 10 she was still tiny enough to be put in a baby swing. She dangled in it miserably, though her family were convinced she loved it: "It makes her feel a part of things." As the novel unfolds, we get used to this radical mismatch between Grace's inner life, which we are privy to, and her effect in the world outside. It's as if a wall is built around her, preventing her from reaching out. The wall is language.

Emma Henderson's novel hangs on the conceit that behind the wall of Grace's near-silence, her language is whole and eloquent. The novel is written in the first person. Far from the insensible object of the system's routines, Grace the narrator is an exceptionally receptive subject. Nothing is lost on her. Bed-wetters wash their own sheets: "I quite liked plunging the soggy yellow cotton up and down in the enormous sinks, watching as the piss blended with then disappeared into the warm, soapy water." Whatever terrible things happen at the Briar (the brutality of some nurses, the dentist's sexual abuse), Grace records them, ruthlessly exact. Language consoles her; she remembers the music her father used to play her, recognises Goethe, knows that "wild roses grew on the highest slopes of the Himalayan mountains".

The conceit is ingenious, and it works. Most novels, after all, find words to express the experience of subjects who could never have put it so well. If the writing sometimes slackens, it isn't because we don't believe in Grace. The problem may be that everything is told in an implied retrospect, as if she were remembering it much later, mixing together different layers from her past. Sometimes that structure leaches the freshness out of a story, however hard the writer's language works to put the colour back. But this is a sensitive and generous book – not least because, although so much that happens to Grace is outrageous, it's never a mere prompt for indignation. Its judgments – of Grace's parents who couldn't cope, and of the Briar – are opaque and complex. At its best it is exuberant and vivid. Grace's story is a life, like and unlike any other; not a case.
adicionada por kidzdoc | editarThe Guardian, Tessa Hadley (Aug 7, 2010)
 

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Koch, MarijkeTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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In memory of Clare Curling Henderson (1946-1997) and Philip Casterton Smelt (1956-2006).
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When Sarah told me Daniel had died, the cuckoo clock opened and out flew sound, a bird, two figures.
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This isn't an ordinary love story. But then Grace isn't an ordinary girl. 'Disgusting,' said the nurse. And when no more could be done, they put her away, aged eleven. On her first day at the Briar Mental Institute, Grace meets Daniel. He sees a different Grace: someone to share secrets and canoodle with, someone to fight for. Debonair Daniel, who can type with his feet, fills Grace's head with tales from Paris and the world beyond. This is Grace's story: her life, its betrayals and triumphs, the disappointment and loss, the taste of freedom; roses, music and tiny scraps of paper. Most of all, it is about the love of a lifetime

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