Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Shelf Life by Livia Franchini. It’s an incredibly introspective and clever piece of literary and women’s fiction.About the Author
Livia Franchini is a writer and translator from Tuscany, Italy, whose work has been published in numerous publications and anthologies. She has translated Michael Donaghy, Sam Riviere and James Tiptree Jr. among many others. In 2018, she was one of the inaugural writers-in-residence for the Connecting Emerging Literary Artist project, funded by Creative Europe.
She lives in London, where she is completing a PhD in experimental women’s writing at Goldsmiths.
Follow @livfranchini on Twitter, Buy Shelf Life
Ruth is thirty years old.
She works as a nurse in a care home and her fiancé has just broken up with her. The only thing she has left of him is their shopping list for the upcoming week. And so she uses that list to tell her story.
Starting with six eggs, and working through spaghetti and strawberries, and apples and tea bags, Ruth discovers that her identity has been crafted from the people she serves; her patients, her friends, and, most of all, her partner of ten years.
Without him, she needs to find out – with conditioner and single cream and a lot of sugar – who she is when she stands alone.
I do hope this read gets the recognition it deserves. It’s an incredibly introspective and clever piece of literary and women’s fiction. Part of me thinks it would make more sense or rather be more self-explanatory if given a visual medium, which probably sounds quite bizarre given the fact it’s a book.
Think Eleanor Oliphant with a more keen sense of self and survival. A woman, Ruth, who we follow as she goes through the process of grief and finding herself after the end of a long-term relationship. Franchini uses each relationship and interaction Ruth has – then connects them via the objects, her job and her thought processes to build and create the story of Ruth. Each part becomes a lego brick as they are placed one by one to complete the picture we have of her.
I loved the whole shopping list aspect of the story. It’s done in such a subtle way, an afterthought even, you don’t realise how clever the concept is until you get to the end of the story. For me the items became the metaphors, coping mechanisms and at times idiosyncrasies.
Sometimes literary fiction can take the path of think more write less and presumes the reader will be able to anticipate meaning and aspiration. The reader can then get lost in the process. I think this verges on the precipice of that now and again.
It’s an intriguing and innovative piece of fiction. I expect to read much more by this author in the future.
Buy Shelf Life at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Doubleday; pub date 29th August 2019 | Hardback | £12.99. Buy at Amazon com.
Massive thanks for the blog tour support Cheryl xx