Review: Jane Davis’s An Unchoreographed Life
When I picked up a copy of the latest book from award winning author Jane Davis I really didn’t know what to expect due to Jane’s ability to write something very different at all times. All I knew ahead of An Unchoreographed Life was that it ended in prostitution and all I knew on that subject was information picked up in crass films as a younger man and reading the Belle De Jour articles a few years ago, both of which glamourised the trade more than I was comfortable with.
Belinda Brabbage is a young child living with Alison her single mother. Belinda knows her way around their small home and likes to find hiding places. Alison tries hard to protect her child’s innocence but Belinda is growing up and Alison knows that one day she will discover her secret and what she has become. Alison first needs to understand her own past and he she went from ballerina to prostitution and visits with a blind clairvoyant. A chance meeting with a rich couple may offer Alison the funds she wants to give Belinda a better life, but trust is an issue.
The start of this novel I found quite intense. I really am uncomfortable reading about children, I don’t know why, and knowing only that prostitution was involved I turned each page dreading what was coming next. Once my preconceptions of what to expect calmed down I started to really enjoy the narrative, that flicked between conventional and childish dependent on which character was talking. Small insignificant things like all Alison’s friends being introduced to Belinda as Aunt or Uncle brought back memories from my own childhood which was nice.
Alison’s work as a prostitute was not graphic and wasn’t the point of the story. There was no expensive lingerie and scenes of Billie Piper and her smoky eyes, this was essentially a story of family and the struggles a parent will put themselves through for their children.
What Jane Davis has done is tackle a very emotional subject and not shy away from the tribulations. There is no glorifying of anyone here. Alison is not written with that ‘Aww poor girl’ style you might expect, Davis has just written a believable character struggling with life. This is a very thought provoking book, especially for me as a family man with my own struggles to give my children a better life, and Davis has produced an insight into a part of life I wouldn’t have got anywhere else.
An extraordinary level of emotion brought on by some superb storytelling.
**** 4 Stars!!!!