Book review: The Emergence of Judy Taylor by Angela Jackson
She married the first man who asked her, lives in the neighbourhood where she grew up and still has the same friends she met in primary school.
Eleven years later, she feels boxed in... she wants space to think, she wants to breathe different air, be around unfamiliar people, and walk out on her handsome, loving husband.
But is it too late to start again?
Angela Jackson, recently named one of City of Literature Edinburgh’s emerging writers, packs a powerful punch in her clear-sighted, viscerally real and yet delicately sensitive debut novel which explores our endless human quest for happiness.
The Emergence of Judy Taylor is, essentially, the story of one dissatisfied woman but her bid for freedom, her quest to find a new beginning, encompasses a whole gamut of people, events and emotions.
Judy’s unexpected decision to quit hearth, home and the building blocks of her 35 years of life in a suburb of Manchester will send out shockwaves far beyond the range of her unsuspecting husband.
Because this is a tale of cause and consequence, an examination of our sense of belonging, about how we make choices and face up to our responsibilities, and whether pursuing that intangible we call ‘happiness’ is ever really achievable.
When 24-year-old Judy married lawyer Oliver Worthing, she discarded her name without a second thought, promising to love and honour him until death parted them.
That was then... now Oliver is still happy and Judy is not. She had thought she was settled and secure until the day she discovered a hard lump in her breast. Following a series of nerve-racking tests, she has finally been told that everything ‘is absolutely 100 per cent normal.’
But instead of the anticipated wave of relief, Judy realises that being ‘absolutely normal’ is absolutely not what she wants. So after texting family and friends with the test results, she mentally says goodbye to her parents’ dutiful daughter and starts to ‘untangle’ herself from her role as ‘wife of lovely Oliver.’
From now on, Judy will take the path of least resistance, she will leave dependable Oliver and embark on a new life of uncertainty in Edinburgh.
Will moving to a new city halt ‘the conveyor-belt of birthday cakes that is speeding up with each passing year’ and will Judy ever find what she’s looking for?
Thought-provoking, darkly funny and hauntingly truthful, The Emergence of Judy Taylor is deliciously unpredictable and wonderfully uplifting.
If you ever thought of walking out on all you have ever known, this is just the book for you!
(Canvas, hardback, £12.99)