Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Today on The Tattooed Book I review the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlisted book, Sight by Jessie Greengrass.
Sight is a collection of ruminations from an unnamed female narrator based on her mother’s death and the monumental decision whether to become a mother and how her decision affected her.
From her current position as a mother of two, she reflects back on a childhood that was heavily influenced by summers spent with her psychoanalyst of a grandmother. She feels the guilt of turning from the role of child to carer when her mother’s illness becomes all-consuming, admitting to only returning to her side as there was no one else, not out of want to help.
She describes the selfishness of parenthood, of forcing something into life, then being torn between equally wanting space to be alone but never wanting to leave her child’s side.
Alongside her family memories, she also recounts some of the research she conducted on innovations and pioneers in medicine since the invention of early X-rays by Wilhelm Röntgen in the late 1800s.
Sight is a novel of beautifully written reflections and captures some of the questions that face women every day. The most interesting for me was the question of whether she should have a child or not and the torment she and her partner go through before a final decision is made. It makes a refreshing change to read from this perspective, too many women in fiction are written in three categories.
- A mother (never questioned it)
- Can’t have children (usually the point of the book)
- Never wanted children (not the mothering kind)
There are a million shades of grey between these and it’s nice to read one so intensely captured.
Although Sight is beautifully written and I enjoyed everything I read, it felt easy to put down and didn’t grab me like other titles on the shortlist for the Women’s Prize have done. I love to be completely caught up in my reading but the slow, reflective pace of this novel held that back. It is also written from one women’s perspective, which allows you to immerse yourself in her but I have a personal preference for a handful of well-crafted characters over an individual.