Friday 30 June 2017

Review ~ She Looks Pale by Kate Rigby


What's it all about ..

The title is taken from a schoolgirl levitation ritual, practised by the mother of narrator Hannah. As a result of Meningitis at the age of six, Hannah nearly dies leading her parents to become obsessively over-protective. Her parents gradually dispose of all methods of modern communication and take Hannah out of school until one day, tortured by the evils of the world, her father ‘disappears’ during the Lord’s Prayer one mealtime. Hannah's mother continues the self-imposed isolation. Confined in the house, Hannah’s only contact with the world is either through the window or through her mother’s past.

What did I think about it ...

She looks Pale is a very intuitive story which looks at the rather alarming way in which Hannah's life pans out following a devastating childhood illness. There's no doubt that any life threatening illness in childhood can have a devastating effect of the parents of the child but in this short novella Hannah's parents take it to its extreme with very interesting consequences.

Whilst reading the story I was immediately taken back to my own childhood, not that my parents were anything like Hannah's, but back to dusty days playing the levitation game, a game which both thrilled and terrified me in equal measure and I can remember very clearly sitting with a finger lightly resting under someone's torso and chanting "She looks pale, she looks pale... she is pale" whilst waiting, eagerly, for the dreaded levitation to happen.

Parts of the story made me smile especially Hannah's describing the cat next door as being a funny ossity, a saying so integral to my northern childhood that I felt quite at home within the pages of the novel, and more especially with the 1970s description of Hannah's mother whose own story is cleverly told as Hannah looks at old family photographs and sees her mother's reminiscences about Chelsea Girl and Chantilly perfume.

However, there are also parts of the story which are both poignant and thought provoking and I  think that the author has really played to her strength in describing Hannah's story in quite simple terms as we get a rather simplistic viewpoint and her childlike acceptance of what happened to her, is well described and at times, quite unsettling.

I really enjoyed She Looks Pale. It's a short story which packs a real punch.

Best Read with...a large paper bag of grapes and cherries..

About the Author

Kate Rigby was born in Crosby, Liverpool and now lives in Devon. She's been writing novels for over thirty years. She loves cats,singing, photography and LFC.

You can read an earlier interview with Kate by clicking here

My thanks to the author for sharing her story with me.


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