As You Were by Elaine Feeney
Title: As You Were
Author: Elaine Feeney
Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
Published Date: August 20th 2020
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Fiction, Irish Lit
Rating: 3.25 /5
The Irish fiction debut of 2020
‘An absolute tour de force: raw, sharp and wild’ Lisa McInerney
Sinéad Hynes is a tough, driven, funny young property developer with a terrifying secret.
No-one knows it: not her fellow patients in a failing hospital, and certainly not her family. She has confided only in Google and a shiny magpie.
But she can’t go on like this, tirelessly trying to outstrip her past and in mortal fear of her future. Across the ward, Margaret Rose is running her chaotic family from her rose-gold Nokia. In the neighboring bed, Jane, rarely but piercingly lucid, is searching for a decent bra and for someone to listen. Sinéad needs them both.
As You Were is about intimate histories, institutional failures, the kindness of strangers, and the darkly present past of modern Ireland. It is about women’s stories and women’s struggles. It is about seizing the moment to be free.
Wildly funny, desperately tragic, inventive and irrepressible, As You Were introduces a brilliant voice in Irish fiction with a book that is absolutely of our times.
So, full disclosure, when I requested this one, I genuinely had no idea that it wouldn’t an uplifting book. Guess, who’s an idiot? Me. I am an idiot. Because of this very reason, I might be a bit biased when it comes to rating the book, however I have tried my best to review it fairly.
This is the story of Sinéad, a young woman who’s working in a hospital. A young woman who has a deep secret that she’s only told to Google and a magpie, you know, a normal human being. Yep. There are emotionally difficult topics being dealt with here and they were done well, I guess I just wasn’t ready for them. She’s working in a ward with many patients and we also learn their stories and she’s musing on them along with her own dilemma.
The problem with this book is that it tries to handle too many things at once, there are various themes through her patients that are shown to us and I wish this book was longer so those topics could have a room to flourish. The end result of this is too many topics and themes being introduced and none of them given enough time on the page.
However that’s not to say that this is a terrible book! It’s not, it has a good solid plot that I wish was explored more carefully. The writing is good and the main character, Sinéad, is not thoroughly likable which is a good thing. I like that in a book. I do wish that it was a thoroughly modern book instead of a book set in the past but presented in a ‘modern’ writing style.
Overall, it was not a bad book and for a debut, this is really good. I will definitely be watching out for more from this author because the potential is there and with tighter editing and more streamlined pace, the author could be really great! The writing is not the problem, per se, it’s the plot and pacing.