Book Reviews, Books

REVIEW: As You Were by Elaine Feeney

What a masterpiece. This book is bloody brilliant!

Feeney’s writing is raw, real, hilarious and heart-wrenching – all at once! Her style is heavily influenced by Ulysses which is both unusual but also a major factor contributing to the charm of this book. It is easy to acknowledge how the paragraphing throughout this book contributes to the overall experience. And that’s right, reading this book is an experience!

Upon reading the first few chapters, I expected it to follow the journey of Sinaed after she received tragic news. However, this simply was not the case. Elaine’s poetic writing and fluid descriptions meant that each time I picked up As You Were, I was transported to a totally different place. This place was cruel, pinned against a hospital backdrop and was so realistic. Because of this, it was easy to relate to the characters and truly experience their retellings, their hurt, regrets and anguish.

The book provides valuable insights into the lives of residents on Sinead’s ward. There is so much more than meets the eye in the backstory from each of these individuals. Not only this, but these expertly developed characters become intertwined on the ward in the most peculiar way. Deep secrets are shared, unlikely friendships are formed and a vivid picture of the past is created. At the same time, the truly tragic situation of Sinead is looming and as a reader, this means you are always on the edge of your seat!

Not only is ‘As You Were’ a brilliant book in terms of content, but Feeney’s work is located within a cruel and unforgiving sociopolitical Irish context. Her work demonstrates the harsh reality of the politicisation of the individual and how lives of citizens can be contained under an oppressive system. Her work explores these norms and expectations in a sensitive yet powerful way.

This book explores so many topical, controversial and interesting elements that it takes time to read. In order to feel the full impact of this incredible narrative, you must give yourself space to digest everything the book has to offer.

Because of its intricacy, 100 different people could read this book and take from it 100 different things.

This is a story about love (and the lengths people go for love), loss, compassion, sexuality and conflicting societal expectations. It is an excellent piece of literature which explores how moments in a person’s life can be bookmarked by their environment… such as the presence of a Magpie which at first may seem insignificant or unimportant.

If you’re reading this review, I urge you to grab yourself a copy of this incredible book. Just trust me, please! Thank you so much to Elaine Feeney for gifting me this copy – I can’t wait to recommend it to everyone I know!

Grace x

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