Hand Me Down World – Lloyd Jones

This is the story of an African Woman working as a cleaner in a Tunisia hotel who becomes pregnant and has her baby taken. This is the beginning as we follow the woman across Europe to find her child.

The story is told by all the people who have met her along her journey, from the supervisor who used to work with her, to the truck driver that gives her a lift part of the way, the man who she works for and subsequently robs to fund her visits to continue her mission to find her child and also the inspector who is following her for reasons which not made clear until much later in the novel.

This is a new concept of writing for me as a reader but actually works very well. You form an opinion about the woman from each story and it changes progressively throughout from good to bad because of how others perceive her. A reflection of how others perceive us and it is never the same as the story we would tell. Eventually we get to hear the woman’s story and her side of the story. And your opinion is changed yet again.

A very good novel, which does stay with you after you have finished reading because of the shift changes so much. The lack of name for the woman, (although there is a suggestion of a name that reels you in to the way she is only for pages later to be  cast aside again), adds to the mystery of the story which really is not a mystery but a tale of determination of a mother trying to find her child. Many of the characters are also nameless, this does not mean they matter less but actually some only tell their story once and we are not forming opinions about them as people but about the woman.

A good challenging book which had me hooked at the beginning and lost me a way through it but I was as determined to complete it and the last 100 pages kept me gripped until the end of the tale for us but the beginning of the woman’s life.

Published 11 November 2010. Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to select and read this book.

I admit it was a bit of a struggle and I did nearly give up, but I am so glad I did not. It made me think about how others perceive you and what story they would tell about you if they were asked. We would never tell the same story I am sure.  Also the image we see in the mirror is a reflection not our true selves.  It reminds me of a scene in the TV adaption of Agatha Christie’s A Pocketful of Rye – but I am not sure whether this features in the book or only on the TV version. A similar comment is made about reflections in mirrors and images from others. I can see I am going to have to find this book and find out.