Jar Baby

Saturday, 8 July 2017

I want to tell you all about my most favourite underrated book and character, Diana (Dee) Rickwood from Hayley Webster's book Jar Baby.

(photo by my lovely friend Linda Bell)

Jar Baby is one of my all-time favourite hidden gems. It is truly wonderful and haunting book and I loved it from the very beginning. It is one of those books you read intentionally slowly to savour every description and make sure you miss nothing. I know that I will re-read it many times and find new layers to it.

Diana (Dee) Rickwood had a difficult childhood. She never knew her parents and was brought up by her Uncle Rohan. She had a difficult relationship with Rohan's partner, Stella, and was abused and molested by in her youth by Stella's driver, Drake. Dee has moved away from the place she grew up and left this life behind her. She is living with her girlfriend and is tentatively happy. Then her Uncle dies, and she is forced to go back to her childhood home and face up to her past. She finds it hard to maintain her new identity there, often resorting to the younger and more naive version of herself that she was when she lived at home. She starts to realise that everything she thought she knew about herself has been built on lies and half-truths and she is forced to reassess everything she knew about herself and those around her.

Diana says of herself in the opening chapters that her "entire life was made up of the interpretations of a lonely girl looking for meaning", and it is this loneliness and sense of searching that drew me to her. Diana found her way into my heart because she is so painfully realistic. She could be any one of us. She drinks a lot, she makes questionable decisions, she is confused about many things her (including her sexuality and her place in the world) and she seems to sabotage her own happiness without ever realising that she is doing so. She has moments of happiness and love with Ronnie, but her inability to commit or to see herself as worthy of a loving relationship causes problems. Dee broke my heart several times during the novel: I just wanted to see her happy.

I asked Hayley for some of her thoughts on Diana, and this is what she said: "I love Diana because she's someone who's been lied to her whole life but is always trying to work out the truth. She doesn't give up on that even when it starts to look like the truth will tear up what she thought she knew. I think she's got a dark sense of humour, she's had to, and she persists. Also she believes in love and wants very much to be able to give and receive it, even though she doesn't always choose the best way of going about it and doesn't really know how. Her love of Titian's Death of Acteaon is totally my own. I've loved The National Gallery since I was nineteen, and I totally stole that passion and gave it to Diana, who discovers the museum and the painting for the first time in the book, and is transfixed. Her wondering about who is on the horse in the background is definitely the sort of thing I spend too long thinking about!"

It was lovely to get this insight from the author and to see how our thoughts about Diana compared.

I came across Jar Baby by following Hayley on Twitter. Hayley herself (and I hope she won't mind my saying this) is something of a hidden gem: she is one of the most genuinely lovely people on the internet, she raises thought-provoking topics and interesting questions, and I am always delighted by what I find in my timeline from her. If you don't already follow her on Twitter, I highly recommend you check her out: @bookshaped

by Charlotte (@ charlottesburns) from Charlotte Somewhere

This post has been kindly written in support of #Rebeccas24HourReadathon. SomeOne Cares is a charity that helps support survivors, young and old, who have suffered of rape or some form of abuse at some point in their life. 

If you would like to get involved and help spread the word then please considering sharing this post with your friends and followers. You can donate or share the donation page directly by going to this page.

Thank you for reading!

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