Thanks for Having Me (Emma Darragh, JOAN)
Emma Darragh’s debut novel, Thanks for Having Me, is an intergenerational familial story that offers a glimpse into the lives of three women: Mary Anne, Vivian and Evie. It’s a non-sequential narrative that transports readers to different points in each of the women’s lives—sometimes Mary Anne is an adult and Vivian is a child, sometimes Vivian is an adult and Evie is a child, and so forth. The women go about their lives—growing families, working, grocery shopping—with one point of contention driving the narrative: Mary Anne is unhappy as a wife and mother, and she leaves her family. This decision ripples through her daughter’s life, and history repeats itself when Vivian leaves her family, too. Mary Anne and Vivian are easy to connect with, particularly in their frustrations, but they’re almost interchangeable characters whose personalities could be more fleshed out. Time markers—cassette tapes, Dolly magazines and cigarettes—replace meaningful change or character growth, and the book might have been stronger if we had just followed one woman’s life. In saying that, the book’s strengths include Darragh’s writing style (which has a lovely and practised flow), engaging female characters, and an exploration of the consequences women face for changing their lives. This is a story for fans of French Braid by Anne Tyler and I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait.
Books+Publishing reviewer: Danielle Bagnato is a book reviewer and marketing and communications professional. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.