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Say Say Say Reviews

Say Say Say by Lila Savage

Say Say Say

Lila Savage

3.29 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publication date: 8 Aug 2019
ISBN: 9781788162227

'Brilliant, compelling, entertaining and a joy to read ... an extraordinarily good book.' - Philippa Perry

3 stars out of 5
Claire Allfree
8 Aug 2019

"the whole thing feels effortful, dutiful and, I’m afraid, dull"

Savage, who has worked as a carer, knows the world of which she speaks.

However, her novel is overwritten, despite containing almost no plot and even less dialogue. Instead, she tells us a lot about how Ella feels, but without ever giving her a persuasive inner life.

Savage strains to explore what it means to be kind, an admirable gesture in a novel — but the whole thing feels effortful, dutiful and, I’m afraid, dull.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
4 Aug 2019

"being honest about the difficult business of grief"

Since not a great deal happens in Say Say Say, the narrator has ample space to explore her thoughts and to experiment with turning them into words. The novel’s great achievement in this process is its honesty. Before becoming a writer, Savage worked for nearly a decade as a carer, so her portrayal of the role feels valuable and real; and despite the obviously autobiographical basis for her fiction, Savage never sanitises Ella’s thinking.

4 stars out of 5
3 Aug 2019

"The poignant story of a carer and a dementia-sufferer"

It is this simple sincerity, the unfussy kindness, that places Savage firmly in Burgess’s A-list. The absence of a strong style will not appeal to everyone, but it fits the sobering subject and gives Ella’s story weight. In that sense Say Say Say is the antidote to the arch and ironic in literature, to books that hide their emotion behind seven layers of cynicism. (If you hated Ottessa Moshfegh’s ultra-cool My Year of Rest and Relaxation, try this.) It is not escapism — the place it takes us to is our own collective future — but its humane journey into other lives provides a consolation of its own.