‘She’s sleet and granite/ Space rock shattering the planet’ – Hold Your Own.
How badass is that quote? I’ve been away for a long time adulting and I’m going to be honest it’s been really, really tough going in May and June.
I’ve decided it was high time to return to my one true love, the thing I can always depend on. IT’S TIME FOR BOOKS.
This is a Kate Tempest appreciation post, are you ready?
Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest
Plot: Tiresias is a boy of fifteen stuck in the same old rut, trying to figure how his place in the world when he come across two snakes copulating on his way to school and hits them in his jealousy. Cursed by the greek God Hera for this act Tiresias is transformed into a woman. This new form brings pleasure, heartbreak, power, confusion and the burden finding one’s identity. As Tiresias grows older and experiences the full force of her unpredictable new womanhood, and agrees to engagement, she is transformed back into a man.
- I adore everything about this poetry collection; the story, the witty asides, the effortless rhythm, the themes of identity, womanhood, loneliness and soul-searching and just how easy it was to read!
- Usually retellings can be hit or miss for me but Tempest manages to stray just far away from the original Greek myth to create something entirely fresh. Tiresias is developed from a man cursed by the gods into an angsty teenager, a fearless woman, a heart-broken romantic and a foul-mouthed force of nature.
- I loved how accessible, genuine and appealing Tempest’s poetry is.
What wasn’t my cup of tea: Honestly nothing, I just wished it was longer so I didn’t have to finish reading it!
Rating: Five stars and a ginger nut. I REALLY recommend this, especially if you’re just dipping your toes into poetry. It’s original, contemporary and Tempest is one of the most talent lyricists I have come across.
The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest
Plot: Three Londoners struggling dancer-turned masseuse- turned waitress Becky, drug-dealer Harry, Leon Harry’s best friend and Pete Becky’s unemployed, dreamer boyfriend. We’ve first introduced to these unlikely friends as Leon, Harry and Becky skip town with a suitcase full of money. The novel goes back in time, narrating how dysfunctional families, unfulfilled dreams and complex relationships lead the 20-somethings into a spiral of bad choices and disillusion.
- Tempest is great at narration that sounds rea; she has a unique knack at crafting believable characters that respond to situations in ways that make them come alive on the page.
- Becky and Pete’s relationship is written in a way that doesn’t shy away from harsh realities of young relationships: rose-tinted love, fiery attraction, jealousy and heartbreak.
- There’s a scary affinity between these four characters and every twenty-something on the brink of everything: love, the loss of the security of youth, career aspirations and keeping up with the rest of the word – read this as confirmation that you’re not alone – Tempest writes this uncertainty brilliantly!
What wasn’t my cup of tea: There are a few complex family relationships that I wish had been explored further like Harry’s complicated relationship with her mother passively disapproved of her sexuality and Becky’s feelings towards her absent parents. I think that’s mostly just my fascination with family dynamics in literature though!
Rating: 4 stars – I thought the Bricks that Built the Houses was a really solid debut, I did prefer Tempest’s poetry but I would definitely recommend this if you enjoy gritty, contemporary novels that nail themes like youth, coming of age and identity.
Have you read any of Kate Tempest’s work? I would love to know what you thought! I think I might just have to read Brand New Ancients next. I hope you’re all having a fabulous summer so far.