Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Publisher: Riverhead Books 2019
Rating: 3/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Modern Mrs. Darcy - New to Me Author; Alphabet Soup - O; Dancing with Fantasy and Scifi - Fairytale
Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. The world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.
Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.
I had such high hopes for this book. I’ve heard amazing things about the author and her writing style. And her writing style is gorgeous. Oyeyemi can surely turn a sentence. I found myself caught up in the lyrical nature of her writing. However, this book went nowhere for me. The beginning of the novel was interesting and I was fascinated by the retelling of Hansel and Gretel. But then, Harriet began telling her story to Perdita and the story started meandering. I just couldn’t keep following the story with any real focus. I’m hoping one of her other books will be a better choice for me.
Next up on the TBR pile: