Women's Prize Longlist 2019 Reviews

Women’s Prize Longlist Review – Ordinary People

Ordinary People.jpg


Publisher: Vintage

Format: Paperback

Pages: 326

Rating: 3/5

Book Depository: Paperback


Diana Evans explores themes of grief, love, friendship and parenthood through her two flailing couples. Michael and Melissa are struggling to remain intimate after having a new baby. Michael is still deeply in love with Melissa, but she sees him in a different light when day after day, she is left with the children whilst he pursues his career. Damian and Stephanie have three children and have been happy, but the loss of Damian’s father changes him drastically. The two couples become intertwined in ways none of them would have imagined and we see that not everything in love is simple.

The writing within these pages was incredibly detailed, not missing out a single piece of information, which highlights how much effort must have been expended on this project. However, sometimes, this style of writing became a flaw, as it took away some of the relatability and accessibility. I feel a more direct, less meandering approach may have been more effective.

On the other hand, the plot was fantastic. It was compelling despite being rooted in ordinary domesticity and I found myself consistently wanting to pick it up. The beginning introduced the characters subtly and we continued from there. One thing I would have preferred is a more equal balance of the two couples’ perspectives. I felt Michael and Melissa’s story was emphasised whilst Damian and Stephanie’s remained an afterthought. 

Initially, I was intrigued by the supernatural element of the story, and I was excited to see what Evans would do with it. However, it just seemed to fizzle out, along with my interest and I wondered what the point of including it in the first place was. That being said, I did appreciate the realistic nature of the content and how it didn’t shy away from topics such as motherhood and infidelity. It provided a juxtaposition for the romance novels currently on the market and shouted from the streets that relationships are not perfect. 

This was a solid, but somewhat flawed read for me. I don’t think I would reread it, but I would potentially recommend it to others. Fans of Zadie Smith and Ali Smith may find something within the pages that they enjoy. 

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