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We Are All Made of Glue by Marina Lewycka


We Are All Made of Glue by Marina Lewycka

Marina Lewycka was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1946 and moved to England with her family when she was about a year old. Her novels are set in England but all three have featured Ukrainian or Eastern European characters. In fact, growing up, Marina knew nothing of her family’s heritage – she was told they had all died in the war. She also knew she had to ask her elderly mother for some information before her death. Then Marina, with internet genealogy research, discovered many living relatives in the Ukraine, who she has since come to know.

We Are All Made of Glue is the story of Georgie Sinclair, over the period of about a year. Georgie is a wife and mom, and works for an on-line magazine Adhesives in the Modern World. This is a story of people “sticking” together and the “bonds” that tie us to family and friends.

One morning at breakfast Georgie’s husband, Rip is, as usual, especially unresponsive to her conversation and she loses her temper – he leaves - and she throws his belongings in the skip – and washes her hands of him. The skip is a magnet for an elderly woman, Mrs. Naomi Shapiro, who finds Rip’s classical record collection and carts it off.

Georgie had already met the bargain hunting Mrs. Shapiro at the grocery shop but now they fall into a sort-of friendship. Mrs. Shapiro is an eccentric to say the least – she is a bag lady with a falling apart mansion full of cats – and secrets. She is alone in the world, and when she falls and is taken to hospital it is Georgie who suddenly finds herself “next of kin”.

Anyone who has read A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Strawberry Fields by this author expects that this novel is going to be very humourous. And it is, but it is also one that explores some serious issues – the plight of the Jews during World War II, the experience of the Palestinians after the formation of Israel, the vulnerability of teenagers and the influence of religion and internet exploitation. And marriage in all its gore and glory, and the ease with which unscrupulous people can take advantage of the fragile existence of the elderly.

Marina Lewycka is a very funny but also a very sensitive writer – she does not make light of the serious issues, but the world around them is nothing if not wacky. There are social workers and real estate agents – some honest and some very much not. There is the background story of Georgie and Rip’s marriage and their families, and of their own children who are not unaffected by their parents marital strife. Each and every one of the myriad of characters is fully fleshed – some too much so, as you will see. It is a satisfying read in all respects and lots of fun to boot.

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