BLOG TOUR: Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Grandmothers is the story of three very different women and their relationship with the younger generation: fiercely independent Nan, who leads a secret life as an award-winning poet when she is not teaching her grandson Billy how to lie; glamorous Blanche, deprived of the company of her beloved granddaughter Kitty by her hostile daughter-in-law, who finds solace in rebelliously taking to drink and shop lifting; and shy, bookish Minna who in the safety of shepherd's hut shares with her surrogate granddaughter Rose her passion for reading. The outlook of all three women subtly alters when through their encounters with each other they discover that the past is always with us and that we go on learning and changing until the very end.

Publisher: Viking
Pages: 304

I am a big fan of Salley Vickers writing and Miss Garnett’s Angel is one of my favourite books. Grandmothers is Vickers' latest book and it is so beautifully done. It is the story of three grandmothers, Blanche, Nan and Minna and how they navigate their relationships with the younger people in their life. They are three very different characters but I found them all endearing and likeable. Nan is extremely close to her grandson Billy but has a strained relationship with her own son, she is very aware of her own mortality, going so far as taking Billy coffin shopping with her. She has had a secret career as a published and successful poet but she is most focused on giving Billy as much of her time as she can as well as teaching him a few things along the way. Blanche is the most glamorous of the three, but perhaps the most out of control. Her daughter-in-law is preventing her from seeing her granddaughter Kitty so Blanche deals with this by hitting the bottle and shoplifting expensive items from Harvey Nicholls. Minna is the quietest of the three, she resides in a little shepherd’s hut, surrounded by her toys and beloved books. She is a surrogate grandmother to Rose who she could not love more if they were actually related. Rose is having a tough time and Minna just wants to be supportive and provide her with as much happiness as she can. Gradually these three women become involved in each others lives and learn from each other as women always seem to do. 
Grandmothers is honest and tenderly written, it really made me think of the role that they play. Vickers alludes to the fact that grandmothers often have very little power yet their role can be pivotal within a family. It’s such a fine line to tread, grandmothers can’t step on any toes but they are only too aware of the mistakes they made with their own children. 
From my own experience I find that women are able to learn so much from each other and Nan, Minna and Blanche are the perfect example of this. They encourage each other to be braver and to be true to themselves, I loved watching their relationships developing as they worked each other out.
Vickers is just so good at portraying relationships and their many different nuances. It was interesting to see the three grandmothers watching the younger characters with the benefit of hindsight and experience. It made me consider just how much the parent can affect the relationship their child has with their grandparents. Blanche, Nan and Minna all have to acquiesce to their own children despite sometimes disagreeing with them where their grandchildren are concerned. This book has made me consider my own daughter’s relationship with her grandmothers and how I could be more supportive of their role in her life as they can both teach her so much. 
Grandmothers is a book that will leave you with a lot to think about, I can highly recommend it. 

Many thanks to Hannah from Viking for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, the book is out now!

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