This month, the On the Brink book club have been reading ‘Skating to Antarctica’ by Jenny Diski. We chose this as we are craving travel, the excitement of going on a journey and being some where different from our usual surroundings. We all wanted to take our minds on an adventure, even if our bodies had to stay put.
It’s fair to say we had a varied response… One of us couldn’t stop falling asleep, one of us enjoyed the humour in it and the rest of us spent our time trying to decide whether we liked the narrator or not. We wondered whether it mattered if we liked her and whether she wanted our sympathy at all? Or whether she was so self-sufficient that the opinions of others were an intrusion. We also talked about the narrative and how truthful, or otherwise, it felt. Isn’t truth always subjective?
We speculated about how the author’s daughter, Chloe, felt. Both about the book and her own experiences as a child. Given everything her mother experienced, we admired how functional Chloe appeared to be (with the caveat that this was her mother’s narrative). Some of us liked the way Chloe found the answers that her mother had been too scared to look for. We were also grateful that we weren’t fellow passengers on her boat. None of us would have enjoyed the sometimes vicious write up that her cohabiters received!
We agreed that the descriptions of the natural world in the book were beautiful, particularly her first discovery of ice. And nobody fancied a room of plain white oblivion, though we did think it might be nice to have someone else take care of things for a while…
If you’d like to read the book, keep an eye on our free library!