14 Jul 2011

Review: "Repeat It Today With Tears"

When this one arrived in my mailbox, I was surprised by how slim it was. I am not sure why but I had expected it to be longer. Maybe because the topic is so controversial?

Let me tell you straight away that this book is not for all because it deals with the subject of what is essentially incest in a really strange, really different way. In a sense it takes the same approach to taboo as "Tiger, Tiger" by Margaux Fragoso, as it focuses on the love story aspect, not the abuse aspect, but in my opinion it handles the topic much better than "Tiger, Tiger" does. You can read my "Tiger, Tiger" review here by the way.

The story in "Repeat It Today With Tears" set in the 1970s and it is about a young girl who desperately lacks a father figure in her life. Susanna is a beautiful girl and a clever girl with a real academical flair - it looks like she will be going to a top university and break the social inheritance even though she has to work as well as go to school. She has grown up on a South London estate among drunkards, criminals and teenage mothers and her mother and sister are both very different from her. Her mother has had a tough life and her sister Lin seems to get pregnant a little too easily... For Susanna this is life as she knows it but something very substantial is missing. Susanna misses her father - her mother's boyfriend is no replacement - and though she has never known him, she goes searching for him. And then the drama starts because it is more or less love at first sight. For Susanna, it is an obsession, nothing is as important as the relationship with her new-found father and for her father it seems like he gets a second shot at youth when this young, beautiful girl gives herself to him. He has no idea that it is his daughter.
As their love grows and grows and grows, Susanna at no point feels that it is wrong. All she can feel is the love for the man that she is incredibly aware is her father. As a reader I found it disturbing but at the same time Anne Peile's beautiful writing makes the story come to life in a way so that it is impossible not to care for Susanna.
The second part of the story is strong, incredibly strong. Tears in my eyes strong. But I won't give anything away.

The strength if this book is Anne Peile's beautiful, delicate prose. The words flow from her, giving Susanna a voice and coating the story in a golden light of times gone by. London in the 70's come to life and the love story part is beautiful - so well-written that I kept forgetting the awfulness of the story. The girl who is so starved for fatherly love that when she has the chance to get to know her father, she takes over the role which her mother has once played maybe in a bid to create the happy family life that she has always been denied and create a right where her mother was wrong. It is a deeply disturbing story but beautiful nonetheless.

Read it if you like: London in the 1970's - or if you were disappointed by "Tiger, tiger".


  1. This sounds very interesting. I did like 'Tiger, Tiger', I thought it was very honest.

  2. I loved this one too and worry some shied away from it because of the subject matter. While it is about incest, it's as much of a technicality as a story about incest can be. I'm glad it made the Orange longlist, or else I likely would not have discovered it, and I'm curious to see where Peile goes with her next novel.

  3. If the writing is good, then I'm there. Like I was saying before, if an author does a good job writing then uncomfortable topics can be interesting no matter what. Again, great review.