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The Gingerbread Woman    by Jennifer Johnston order for
Gingerbread Woman
by Jennifer Johnston
Order:  USA  Can
Headline, 2001 (2001)
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Jennifer Johnston has written a unique book on a normally mundane subject. Two strangers carry hurts inflicted by others. Though they are not meant for each other, their time together helps them unwittingly to find a way out of their troubles.

In Dublin, Clara and Laurence meet on Killiny Hill as she is standing on the edge, seemingly about to jump. They meet again later, and slowly we come to know the tragedy that has befallen each of them, though at the end it is only Clara who unwillingly finds out all about Laurence. Because of this their conversation and relationship take strange turns. But their basic honesty with each other helps them make progress in looking forward instead of back.

On the surface, this is not an unusual story. But the writer has managed to capture the characters and their slow growth with such an economy of words that we apprehend what is happening almost by accident. Each word a character says resonates forward and back in the story. This is quirky but masterful writing, a pleasure to read.

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