Her Living Image, Faber I984
What happens when, after 15 years of marriage, your husband meets and falls in love with the woman you would have become - had you not married him?
As 18 year old Carolyn Tanner lies in a hospital bed recovering from a road accident, she begins to imagine herself in a different life. In her fantasy, Carolyn returns to her parents' home, marries her childhood sweetheart and becomes a mother. In her real life, she joins a women's cooperative and becomes a landscape architect. In each life, Carolyn remains stubbornly individual, yet the facts of one life preclude the other, and each decision made closes the door to other possibilities.
'Infinitely subtle delights . . . Her Living Image appeals through its author's gimlet eye for details and the charity with which she dissects her women's lives and choices.' Time Out
'Jane Rogers, in Her Living Image , walks a high wire with much skill . . . The book may sound schematic but the ideas it discusses practically never become detached from the feel of the soil, the look of a new baby, the texture of people's lives.' New Statesman
'The use of shadow-figures, alter-egos and doubled characters, a literary convention with a lengthy history, is employed in Her Living Image in an imaginative and unusual form. Carolyn, a shy, awkward, intense 18 year old, is involved in a serious car accident; she finds herself becoming indifferent and then hostile towards her clumsily doting mother and increasingly drawn towards fellow-patient Clare. On leaving hospital, Carolyn - now Caro - escapes her parents and moves into Clare's feminist household. However, the story that Carolyn began to tell herself for comfort immediately after the accident - the story of her own life in which the accident never occurs - takes on its own momentum and begins to live itself.
'The story, once started, continued though, as stories will - quite unknown to Carolyn. It features a Carolyn no less real than herself; her double, her living image, separated from her only by a second's timing in a rainsoaked dash across Leap Lane.'
While Caro engages with the difficulties of a new existence in which feminist politics govern daily living, Carolyn leaves school, becomes pregnant by her boyfriend Alan, marries and becomes a mother and housewife. The two stories alternate throughout the novel . . . careful realism and precise prose have been employed to build up the two disparate lives and render them wholly believable. Caro's development from introverted adolescent to independent woman is particularly convincing . . . Her Living Image never fails to take contemporary feminism seriously, but it presents feminist arguments as complex issues rather than political tracts.' Times Literary Supplement
'A splendid and sustained fable for our time . . . Shared like a double arabesque, her mirrored plot is witty, full of sharp observation . . . Her Living Image is as accomplished in execution as it is original in its conception.' Marge Piercy.
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