Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storyworks Blog ~ Conditions of life

It’s odd how, from time to time, literature and life come closer together than you expect. I’ve just been reading a fine and thought-provoking book which the Book Group to which I belong had chosen as our next book.  Go, Went, Gone is by a German writer, Jenny Erpenbeck. It has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, it’s about immigration and it has made me think a lot about the lives of people in a foreign land, separated from their families and full of hope for a better life.

Go, Went, Gone and its themes were still strongly in my mind when Paul and I organised for a house-cleaner to pay a three-hour visit to our house. My recent ill-health meant that the visit was much-needed and now here she was, a shy, delightful young woman who turned out to be an excellently thorough cleaner. In the course of conversation with her, I asked her where she was from. Her reply was Eritrea. I also learned a bit about her husband. And where is he? In Sweden.

At once I began to imagine. What must it feel like to be living and working far away from your spouse? In the case of our house-cleaner, she and her husband had recently managed a little bit of time together on the occasion of their wedding anniversary. But what is it like to have to part again? In her case, she does have some relatives in this country.

But I can’t help feeling that, in her situation, it must often feel lonely. You probably don’t have much chance to make friends. You are at the mercy of those who employ you. You probably don’t make much money overall and it’s possible that, in this situation, you long to be back in your own country. It’s equally possible you are extremely thankful for the new opportunities a different country has brought you.

Life can be very complicated and perhaps one of the most important functions that novels can have is to alert us to an awareness of the different circumstances of different lives. Between the two of them – Go, Went, Gone and the shy young cleaner who will be making a second visit to our house again very soon – I have learned a lot during this past week.

PS:  I wanted to include two daffodil photos as an encouragement to spring to be arriving as quickly as possible.

Tags: ,

One Response to “Storyworks Blog ~ Conditions of life”

  1. Pam Says:

    What synchronicity to be reading a book of immigration and then to experience it first hand from your cleaner. her story squeezed my heart.

Leave a Reply