Heads and Straights – Lucy Wadham

This sat in my drafts for ages and I’m not sure why, but here you go.

Back in June, I went to see my friend after work, because she wasn’t well, and she needed cheering up, and a cuddle. While I was there she disappeared and came back with this. It’s short, so it only took me a couple of days. Part of the Penguin Underground Lines series – it’s supposed to be the Circle Line, though it’s pretty tenuous – it’s largely set around Chelsea, where she grew up. It’s a memoir (though with changed names) about the author’s time growing up in Chelsea, and the various exploits of her large and eccentric family – a wild grandmother, Wadham and her errant siblings – and the people that they encountered. I love family stories, and this one is fascinating, and hugely entertaining.

It’s interesting that, over the last couple of years, some of the books that have really stayed with me have been nonfiction, of a personal kind – explorations of wider subjects told through someone’s own experience. I used to be terrified of nonfiction, and of memoirs, always found it hardgoing and a bit too much like school work. And maybe that’s what’s done it: it’s been five years since I had to read something, which opens up a lot of room for enjoyment. I’m grateful to the people who have recommended and lent me nonfiction, and I’m glad that I’ve taken my time.

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