May Bookclub Review: The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

Sunday 31 May 2015 by

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, Heather O'Neill, Quercus, BookThe Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill

Published by Quercus

At birth, Nouschka forms a bond with her twin that can never be broken. At six, she’s the child star daughter of Quebec’s most famous musician. At sixteen, she’s a high-school dropout kicking up with her beloved brother. At nineteen, she’s the Beauty Queen of Boulevard Saint-Laurent. At twenty, she’s back in night school. And falling for an ex-convict.

And it’s all being filmed by a documentary crew.

~*~

When I first began The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, I really wasn’t sure about it. It was too much too quickly, and the characters were baffling. But then, all of a sudden, it connected. There was a poetic quality to the writing – the cats are like accordions and dripping candle wax, they have one white paw that was because it had dipped it in to the moon’s reflection in the fountain, petals are like polkadots falling off a dress, piano music is like raindrops falling on the lake – and the characters move from baffling to deliciously tortured.

Noushka is the perfect narrator, swinging between stream-of-conscious babbling to moments of profound insight. She is unendingly vulnerable, seeking security and reassurance in those around her, but at the same time knowing she can’t rely on it. There is inner strength in her too. Even as the narrator she doesn’t realise it, but it is evident.

This is a Quebec coming of age novel – dystopic and bruised, but hopeful and honest. The characters are terminally flawed, there is almost no hope in their future but you want to believe there is. The epic poetry of the narrative makes you hope, like Noushka does.

Even the twists are unseen and that is rare, and I was impressed by the scope and freshness of the tale. O’Neill knows how to build a story, its structure is perfect for its narrative. There are still moments of weakness that baffled me in the beginning, and you lose it for those moments, dragging you out of the seedy story and back to the real world.

This is not the most outstanding novel I’ve ever read: it’s escapism and entertaining for most of it (and there are certain passages that astound – check out pages 383 and 384 for some amazing writing about grief and love), but then there are moments that leave you cold. It is nothing to do with the writing, but simply characters that you can’t follow the whole way down the road.

“But your task is to become something much more unique and surprising than anyone your parents could ever imagine you to be. You have to know that the life you have is completely yours.”

What did you think of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night?

June’s House of Blog Bookclub is The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris! Tweet your thoughts through the hashtag #HoBBookclub on Twitter or write on the wall on the House of Blog Facebook page.

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