Isa & May by Margaret Forster

A Very Symbolic Cover

How much of a role do grandmothers play in the lives of their grandchildren? This is a topic which fascinates Isamay having been named after her very different grandmothers Isa and May, who delivered her at home following her mother’s early labour and played an important role in her life from that moment on. She is so inspired that she begins to write her Masters dissertation on the role of grandmothers in history, all the while aware that for her, her relationship with her grandmothers is the more significant story- all the more so when Ismay’s urge to probe into unspoken secrets begins to challenge the status quo of grandmother and granddaughter, shaking the family’s relationships to the core.

I really enjoyed reading Isa and May, the role of grandmothers being of great interest to me. The characters of Isa and May are well drawn, and the voice of Isamay is authentic enough to make you connect with her character and invest in the story to the point that I felt as though I was in Isamay’s shoes on occasions, and was gearing up to fight back.

At times I felt I was being pulled away from the main direction of the story by Isamay’s thesis research, almost as if the author was torn between writing a thesis or a novel and this was the curious by-product of both. Don’t let that comment put you off, as it is an enjoyable read. Many of the anecdotes add to the story, it’s just unfortunate that the odd one detracted; otherwise Forster is an interesting author and definitely one to look out for in future.

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