Gee is exploring the perennial questions of how to break the cycle of violence passed down the generations, and the ways in which men (and sometimes women) exercise control through fear... Blood is a curious novel, which all too often feels like a tussle between two different books vying for the upper hand: one, a serious and timely examination of male brutality and its enduring psychological effects on women and children; the other, a slapstick sex and murder caper. Occasionally, the novel hits a sweet spot between the two; too often, though, the absurdity undercuts any real feeling for the characters.
Maggie Gee’s latest blackly comic creation is an unforgettable character, who slowly reveals her insecurities and longings as the picture of the Ludds’ rotten childhoods comes fully into focus. Setting her story in a Brexit Britain beset by terrorist attacks, Gee cleverly blends nimble, sometimes slapstick humour with an affecting commentary on the corrosive legacy of violence, both verbal and physical.
Gee’s gripping new novel, her 13th, follows Monica Ludd, a brawny deputy headteacher who is on the run from the police... Gee’s macabre comedy-thriller is interwoven with references to a Brexit-broken Britain and laugh-out-loud passages, the richest coming from Monica herself.
Though her political conclusions may be naive, equating Albert with US and UK forces in the Middle East and his terrorised children with Isis, in its own knockabout, miniaturised way, Blood is an intriguing meditation on cycles of violence, and vengeance versus forgiveness. With jokes.
Gee’s prose is never less than lively and is sometimes borderline manic. The biographer Lyndall Gordon describes Blood as ‘wonderfully, startlingly unlike any novel I’ve ever read’. And it’s true: the originality of the narrative can’t be faulted. But it’s difficult to make sense of.
MAGGIE GEE IS slender, silvery-haired and super stylish. “I am a small woman,” acknowledges the hugely talented writer, adding that she has always longed to be tall, to be a big, busty, buxom woman as strong as the heroine of her astonishing new book, a Gothic black comedy set in an angry, anarchic, Brexit Britain, which is like no other novel I have ever read.
What’s not to like about Mono? Her voice is honest, uncontrolled and often very funny, and as she rattles on, ‘inadvertently’ venting her spite on the siblings whom she resents, now and then moments of affection surface. We realise that Gee is fully in control of the narrative, which is lovely in its picture of emotions. The Ludds are the family from hell, but they’re also Everyfamily, where love and bits of hate have to fight it out.