Title: The Queen of Bloody Everything
Author: Joanna Nadin
Published: February 13th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
Dido Sylvia Jones is six years and twenty seven days old when she moves from London squat to suburban Essex and promptly falls in love with Tom Trevelyan, the boy next door. It’s not just him Dido falls for, though: it’s also his precocious sister, Harry, and their fastidious, controlling mother, Angela.
Because Angela is everything that Edie – Dido’s own mother – is not. And the Trevelyans are exactly the kind of family Dido dreams of.
Which is what Dido wants to be, more than anything else in the world.
But normal is the very thing Edie can never be, as Dido – and the Trevelyans, including Dido’s beloved Tom – will eventually learn the hard way.
Like the very best families, Joanna Nadin’s The Queen of Bloody Everything is funny, warm, tender and heart-breaking in equal measure. Part love story, it’s ultimately about mothers and daughters; about realising, however long it takes, that family might be what you make it, but you can’t change where you come from.
British author Joanna Nadin has an impressive back catalogue of work, with plenty of books she has written for children and teenagers. The Queen of Bloody Everything (great title!) is her first work of adult contemporary fiction. It takes a good look at an unconventional relationship between a mother and a daughter.
The Queen of Bloody Everything begins at a turning point in the narrator of the tale, Dido’s life. When Dido was six years old, Dido and her mother moved into a new house. This house meant so much to Dido. It represented a new way of life, or trying to live like any normal family, after years of living an alternative lifestyle. Dido soon realises her mother will not be changing her ways so quickly and she forms a long lasting attachment to the family next door. For Dido, the next door neighbours, the Trevelyans, represent the ideal family fold. It doesn’t take long for Dido to embrace the friendship of daughter Harry, fall in love with older brother Tom and appreciate the comfort of parents, Angela and David. The novel travels through the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and ends in the 2000’s. All the while, Dido longs for a normal family and home life, which is the one thing her mother Edie, cannot give Dido.
The Queen of Bloody Everything, the first piece of work I have read by Joanna Nadin. Overall, it offered me a quirky and quick read. I had a feeling I was in for something a little off kilter when I picked up this book to read. The title choice was also quite bold and carefree, a lot like the main character and mother figure in this book.
I like the way The Queen of Bloody Everything is structured. The narrative follows a clear timeline. We begin in the mid 1970’s and travel through each decade until the 2000’s. The book closes when Dido, the daughter and main narrator of this book, is well into her thirties. Each chapter heading also contains the title of a well known piece of literature. I eagerly flicked the pages over in the anticipation of what book title would feature next. I admired the way Nadin included this appealing aspect to her book.
Nadin’s attention to detail in regards to her period and setting of her novel is very good. Her depiction of each decade is both vivid and detailed. I enjoyed the sense of nostalgia The Queen of Bloody Everything evoked for me personally, as I grew up in the 80’s. There is a great timeless quality to this novel.
Nadin’s characters are sculpted very well. Dido and Edie, are presented with much colour and substance. Dido is a character that I felt a deep sense of compassion for from the very start. Dido’s musings did get a little rambled and angst filled at times. However, it is hard not to both feel sorry for her and hope that she succeeds in life. Dido’s interactions with all the characters in the novel are varied and interesting. I enjoyed observing Dido’s pathway to self discovery and acceptance. On the other hand, Edie, the other lead in the novel and Dido’s mother, was a character that I didn’t warm to at all. Nevertheless, I do applaud Nadin for her representation of Edie, which was very clear.
Dido’s connection to her next door neighbours is felt strongly in this novel. I rooted for Dido and Tom’s relationship. I enjoyed their love story that carried over many years. I also liked Dido’s friendship with Harry and her attachment to the Trevelyan parents. From these relationships, I can safely say, Joanna Nadin has a good handle on human relationships and family dynamics.
There are some important themes or advice to be taken away from reading this novel. The intricacies of mother and daughter relationships, especially the ups and downs, is the first theme that springs to mind. I consider love, friendship, family, dysfunction, acceptance, heartache, self discovery and finding your own two feet to all play parts in this novel. The Queen of Bloody Everything could be classed as a coming of age story, as we closely follow Dido’s process of growing up in the shadow of a mother who is very different to the norm.
The close of the book is touched with a little sadness, a dash of hope, humour and plenty of heart. The Queen of Bloody Everything is an emotional read that delves into the complicated area of family relationships and making the best of life, despite the setbacks.
The Queen of Bloody Everything by Joanna Nadin was published on February 13th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Queen of Bloody Everything, Joanna Nadin visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.