Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Genre Character of the Week: Martha Vines

One of my favourite parts of reading a book is when the story genuinely surprises me, where something happens that feels like it came out of nowhere, but with 20/20 hindsight is the only way things could have gone. Case in point, last week I read the novel The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce, which started out being about a girl in post-WWII England, then appeared to be about her son, and eventually turned out to be about her mother and this week's Genre Character of the Week, Martha Vines.

Martha is a mother of eight girls who at the beginning of the novel, after her daughter Cassie decides not to give up her baby for adoption, decides that her grandchild will be raised by all of his aunts in turns, as his mother is a little crazy.

The thing is, Martha, Cassie and Frank all have the sight, wherein they know things they shouldn't, Martha can see ghosts and has premonitions, Cassie has an incredibly amount of power when she wants to use it and Frank, well, Frank is full of potential but spends the majority of the novel as a young boy, so we just get hints of what he might be able to do.

The thing I really admire about Martha is that even with these strange and bizarre powers she has, her focus is still on being a good mother and grandmother. Honestly, I don't think people give enough credit to folks who just do what it is we're all supposed to do, be decent and try to help out. Martha has both of these qualities in spades, so this week she gets a nod from old Bookmonkey.

The book, by the way, is pretty great - the magic within it is subtle, but powerful. I heartily recommend it.

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