Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was definitely one confusing book - at times I was unsure who was narrating, which Bear was which, and whether we were in Liga's world or in the real world. I'm also unsure if this was based on a story I should have known, since it was part of a "updated fairy tales" list.
Liga's very difficult life was dealt with relatively sensitively: the incest, abortions and gang rape are not graphically depicted but it's clear what's going on. Her "heaven" appeared, at first, to be almost a dream but it was a real place, a place that she and her daughters escaped to when the real world because too much.
As with all heavens, there are bad things, like the leetle man getting eaten, second-Bear's relationship with Branza, and Urdda's desire for something more. When Urdda is able to return to the real world, Liga's heaven suffers a huge rift from which it will not recover; one 'real year' later, she and Branza are reunited with Urdda in the real world.
While Liga seems to accept this change, I got the feeling that was not actually the case. She tries to recreate her heaven by restricting her interactions with others and by keeping to the lifestyle she created 'elsewhere'. At the end of the book, when Davit proposes to Branza (who accepts) and with Urdda living in Rockerly, I wondered if Liga would try, again, to find her heaven - this time with Davit as her husband and her daughters permanently young.
Despite the confusion, I liked this modern fairy tale - although I would not recommend it for younger readers.
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