Sight by Jessie Greengrass

I keep promising myself that one year I will read the entire Women’s Prize shortlist ahead of the prize being announced! I had not factored in the difficulty actually tracking down copies of the listed books, with many not yet readily available in North America. When I saw an ARC of Sight available on NetGalley I immediately requested it from the publisher (thank you, Crown Publishing!)

I really enjoyed this introspective and, at times almost stream-of consciousness, narrative reflection on motherhood in many of its permutations. The three chapters of this book capture different stages of the unnamed narrator’s experiences as a mother, daughter and granddaughter. These include her deliberations on becoming a parent initially, the death of her own mother, and a reflection on her childhood summers spent at her grandmother’s home (whom she refers to distantly as Doctor K). The language and the sense of place in this are just exquisite and really helped me feel immersed in this early on.  The pace and semblance of plot reminded me of Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet – while there may not be so much happening in terms of movement, you get a deep dive into the narrator’s experiences with motherhood in Sight in the way that Smith gives an analysis of world affairs and politics. The joy of reading the two was also a similar experience for me – I enjoyed my time in this narrator’s thoughts so much that the progression of any plot per se seemed irrelevant for me.

I found the juxtaposition between the narrator’s experiences and the medical history peppered throughout the chapters really fascinating, and for me this was most effectively done in the second chapter. I liked the way they were integrated into the narrative rather than being standalone chapters of their own, and think it made for a much more readable experience.

sight
Image Credit: Goodreads

This was a brilliant debut novel and I look forward to reading more by Jessie Greengrass! Thanks again to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for an ARC copy of this in exchange for an honest review. Publication date in North America listed currently at 21 August 2018.

 

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