Book Club, Review

Bookclub talk: Grief is the thing with feathers – Max Porter

It was my turn to suggest books we could read for our bookclub.

My picks were:

  • The Vegetarian – Han Kang
  • The Enchanted – Renée
  • The Tiger’s Wife –
  • Grief is the thing with Feathers – Max Porter

The last book we read was “Jij zegt het” by Connie Palmen. A Dutch book about Ted Hughes and his relationship with Sylvia Plath. (I didn’t like that one)
That’s why I never expected “Grief is the thing with feathers” to get the majority of the votes.

grief is the thing with feathers max porter

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother’s sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness.
In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow – antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.

This is such a uniquely beautiful book. I absolutely adored the writing, it was very poetic and full of deeper meaning.

It’s a small book and it is divided into three parts. Each part is divided into even tinier pieces and each piece is voiced by one of three characters.

  1. Dad
  2. The Boys
  3. Crow

The sense of loss in this book is written so well that it physically hurts. Dad is obviously completely lost without his wife and is trying to keep it together for his two boys.
The boys miss their mother and aren’t willing to let her go yet.

And in the middle of this darkness is Crow. Dad is writing a biography of Ted Hughes, inspired by the poet’s work ‘Crow’. So the fact that an actual crow appears to help them (in his own way) to deal with their grief, is somewhat understandable.
Crow curses and tells gruesome tales but still manages to be poetic.

This is such a truly magnificent book.

It made me laugh and it made me cry (that last page…) and it also made me wish I could read it again for the first time, to rediscover it over and over again.

I can not recommend this enough!

(Last Thursday, our bookclub got together to discuss ‘Grief is the thing with feathers’ and the opinions went from ‘ok’ to ‘not my cup of tea’. So unfortunately, the book only got a 5,5/10)




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