Ordinary People by Diana Evans
Published by: Penguin RandomHouse UK
Release Date: 2019
Genre: Literary Fiction
Two couples find themselves at a moment of reckoning. Melissa has a new baby and doesn’t want to let it change her. Damian has lost his father and intends not to let it get to him. Michael is still in love with Melissa but can’t quite get close enough to her to stay faithful. Stephanie just wants to live a normal, happy life on the commuter belt with Damian and their three children but his bereavement is getting in the way.
Set in London to an exhilarating soundtrack, Ordinary People is an intimate study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and ageing, and the fragile architecture of love.
Despite an incredibly slow pace, Ordinary People manages to deliver a solid tale of love gone sour.
The novel tells the story of 2 couples; Melissa & Michael are the pinnacle of black love, a young and sexy pair that fit so well they don’t need a marriage to prove their love for each other while Damian & Stephanie should have never been a pair to begin with.
In a marriage of music album reviews and storytelling, Diana Evans takes us through a novel designed for further discussion. The characters are the selling point of Ordinary people. And while there’s so much to say about each one, I’ll keep this as short as possible.
Melissa, who I wanted to love after reading the blurb but realize she’s as insensitive and self-centered as they come. A new mom who thought working freelance from home while managing her home and 2 kids would be a walk in the park. This is not why she’s self-centered though. That would require a psychiatrist’s analysis.
Michael, lover of Melissa, a man so in love with the idea of his live-in partner, he couldn’t stop longing for the Melissa who wasn’t a mum/freelancer/homemaker/woman who doesn’t have his time. Frankly, I felt like kicking his self-pitying face in half of the time.
Damian, friend to Michael and Melissa, who is the definition of the thing under the vegetable that’s destroying it (loose translation). Damian isn’t dealing with his father’s death very well and seems intent on self-destructing and taking as many people down with him as possible.
Not that Stephanie would let that happen. This wife of Damian has the life she wants just the way she likes it and not even her husband will get in the way of that.
Needless to say, this is not the formula for successful love and/or friendships and Ordinary People was painful to read at times. Not for terrible writing or the previously mentioned slow pace but for the terrible humans roaming about in its pages.
Of course, they are not terrible people because they want to be. Just human as humans are.
I believe my experience reading Ordinary People would have been better if I read it with my book club. Just because the writing is so slow and the story demands analysis/conversation.
Not a book I would read again for fun. At least not alone. I recommend recruiting a reading buddy if you’re looking to start this journey.