Much of Amy Mason’s debut novel The Other Ida was written while she was cocooned in Bristol’s Spike Island as its first ever writer in residence. Nobody could have predicted that a few years later the book that Amy had been working on would trample over 400 other entries and win the Dundee International Book Prize.
And The Other Ida is the book in question. It is a raw exercise in sibling rivalry, alcoholism, parenthood and grief, all wrapped up in a chaotic world of faded theatre glamour and dusty boxes of crystalised ginger. Our anti-hero Ida returns home to reunite with her sister Alice as they prepare for their mother’s funeral. And in the days leading up to the burial, Ida and Alice are joined by a growing procession of lovers, old friends, forgotten relatives and buried memories as the chapters flit from decade to decade.
Ida and Alice’s relationship with their mother, Bridie, was never easy – caught up as it was with their mother’s alcoholism, which in part seems to have stemmed from her bitterness and unhappiness as the injustices she feels the world dealt her after her play, Ida, took the world by storm… a success she was never able to repeat.
Amy Mason’s style is honest and confessional, and it’s clear her second novel will be even more exciting and challenging than The Other Ida is.
Click here to read Amy’s article on The Guardian about women and alcoholism.