Our summer reading list, as with all lists, never seems complete. Jo Walton’s My Real Children – our July Book of the Month – is a book that we feel should be added to our summer beach reads while there is still time. As revealed by the popularity of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, it is clear that at one time or another we’ve all fantasized about an alternate reality – one that would have existed had we only made a different choice somewhere in the past. How would my life have turned out if I’d taken the other road, made the other choice? It’s a question that’s been explored by countless writers and artists – the currently-running Broadway musical If/Then sees Idina Menzel’s character simultaneously living through two alternate versions of her life – but My Real Children explores the premise in heartbreakingly delicate fashion.
The elderly protagonist of Walton’s novel is Patricia Cowan, or rather two different version of Patricia Cowan. Born in England in 1926, she is in Oxford during the Second World War and meets Mark, who immediately proposes. It is this decision that marks the point of divergence for Patricia’s two lives. In one life she endures a trainwreck of a marriage to Mark, and in the other she enters into a lifelong relationship with another woman. From the nursing home – or homes – where she will live out the rest of her days, Patricia remembers both of her lives.
About the Author
Jo Walton has published ten novels, three poetry collections and an essay collection. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, the World Fantasy Award in 2004 for Tooth and Claw, and the Hugo and Nebula awards in 2012 for Among Others. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are much better. She writes science fiction and fantasy, reads a lot, talks about books, and eats great food. She plans to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year.
Beyond the Book