Believable and well-written, I would gladly add this book to my classroom and library bookshelf. A gripping story.
by Reading Lit
I recently read in just one day Lynda Haddock's first novel Ellen Lives On. It's a brilliant story of sudden tragic loss and how a young girl/woman about to turn 16 deals (and doesn't deal) both with the loss and the extraordinary circumstances following it.
Set around 1971 initially in the North and then in London, it vividly brought back the experience of depending on phone boxes to contact people and what it was like to have a conductor on a bus and a bus you could jump off at the traffic lights. Some of the descriptions of London reminded me of the best of Iris Murdoch's descriptions of London in some of her best novels.
The first two chapters were emotionally extremely challenging but I'm very glad I persisted, although it didn't become much less emotionally involving and challenging as the novel unfolded.
But this is not just a terrific exploration of psychological survival, it's a profoundly political novel, about women's oppression as it manifests itself at the most mundane but pervasive levels, about Conservative bigotry, and about racism and fascism. It is, in fact, a socialist novel which any socialist would both identify with and thoroughly enjoy.
Running through the novel is an impassioned indictment of educational segregation on class lines both within the state system and between the state system and the private and a vision of a comprehensive alternative in which the maximum effort would be devoted to doing the best for every child whatever their advantages or disadvantages. Given what the Tories have done to state education in this country over the last eight years, it's a timely reminder that there really is an alternative much better way of educating people.
I would highly recommend reading Ellen Lives On and I very much hope there is a second novel in the pipeline, taking Ellen's story further. I'm dying to know if she went to university to read philosophy and what happened then! Rob, Budapest
by Rob, Budapest
Lynda began her career as an English teacher and has subsequently worked as a headteacher and a local authority officer with responsibility for education pupils who were experiencing difficulties in their lives. Many young people have shared their stories of pain and resilience with her and Lynda has listened carefully to these. She understands the power that fiction can have to help young people understand and manage the difficulties they experience. Whilst this is Lynda's first novel she is the author of several books about education.