Nevertheless, this is also where I began to find How to Hold a Grudge confusing. Is it a self-help book, or a parody of a self-help book? I can never tell with this genre at the best of times. I thought Jordan Peterson and Matt Haig’s things were spoofs, as their publications do not seem to have been written, as I understand the process of writing. They are like blogs or rants, bullet points and gobbledegook, pouring forth as a tide of numinous sewage. Does it go back to Kahlil Gibran or Patience Strong — readers grabbing anything that promises to cheer them up? Sophie Hannah is culpable of some of this cod enlightenment, especially when she says things like ‘a sunflower isn’t a grudge, and neither is a tortoise’. Can anyone not on drugs follow what that may mean?
Hannah is excellent on how to embrace our grudges, nurture them and use them to help you become a better person. There's plenty that is tongue in cheek here, but a generous dollop of genuinely useful advice too.
Hannah is a big fan of self-help books. Over the years, she admits, she has “read and loved hundreds”, which seems a tad excessive. Now she has written one of her own. It’s often amusing and insightful but her own fans will probably be eager to see her return to crime fiction.
Behind the humour, exaggeration and exclamation marks lie clues to the previously unhappy life of a woman who is, she admits, an arch people-pleaser... She packages it as grudges instead... The advice to forget it and move on doesn’t work for her — nor should it for anyone, she claims... She takes her hurt, analyses it, and places it in something she calls her Grudge Cabinet (she recommends a shoe box). Every so often she takes the grudge out to refine and polish. Thus controlled and no longer toxic, her resentments are beneficial. She wants her many fans to deal with nastiness the same way. Unsurprisingly, she’s an aficionado of self-help books — and for all I know hers may become a useful addition to the genre... I found the format too irritating, the examples of petty slights and fall-outs as tedious as TV soap opera. But before she grades me as a five carat in her Grudge Cabinet, I still love that poem. And I’d like to read a proper memoir.