Book Review: “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo

bernadine evaristo

One of my lovely colleagues picked “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernadine Evaristo for book club last month.

Normally, the nominated person picks a book they like, but, in this case, she’d never read it. Luckily, her gamble paid off, and almost all of us loved it.

If that isn’t enough recommendation, there is the small fact that it won the Booker Prize in 2019, along with Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments”.

The book is split into twelve parts. Each part dives deep into the life of one of twelve black British women who are all connected in some way, big or small.

Altogether, the stories reach back in time, travel the UK and beyond, and detail a spectrum of experiences.

Evaristo’s writing feels effortless

Each character feels real. I tried to describe a couple here, like Amma the playwright or Shirley the teacher, but it feels wrong. They’re all too complex to boil down to a few descriptive words!

A character may appear one way, but explored through another character, you see them in a different light.

Then, when you get to read the voice of the character herself, she’s illuminated.

The writing style is what divided us at book club. There isn’t much punctuation — no capitalisation to start sentences, no speech marks, no full stops at the ends of sentences. I loved it.

Much to some dismay, I announced that I might prefer the lack of punctuation. Though please don’t recreate it for the “Friend”!

I think Evaristo’s writing is beautiful here. Sometimes it feels like an author is trying too hard — it interrupts the flow and pulls me out of the story.

Evaristo’s writing felt effortless.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which we all loved:

Hazel said novels was better value than poetry books because they had more words in them, poetry books was a rip-off

(Winsome doesn’t think Hazel should be in their reading group)

Want to learn more about Bernadine Evaristo and her work? Visit her website here.

For more book reviews from “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.