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Lisa Kerrigan

I have to admit that I’m a magazine junkie. With the possible exceptions of golfing and bridal magazines I’ll read any magazine – from the trashy tabloid to high-brow literary – anywhere; anytime; dentists’ waiting rooms, doctors’ waiting rooms, hairdressers’ salons and, most of all, public transport. In fact, magazines are made for public transport. Unlike reading novels you can finish an article, story, or review in the space of a P.T. trip without the narrative being interrupted by annoying practical details like getting off. Buying a magazine and making it last over a week of P.T. transport is an art, as is choosing the right magazine for the right journey. It’s not an exact science but there are compelling reasons for giving this matter serious consideration.

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This quote from Buddha opens Tasting Salt, Dowrick’s second novel, and freedom is its main theme. But the freedom in question is of the quiet domestic kind rather than the revolutionary clenched-fist-and-anthem kind. Cordelia, preparing a cocktail party for her seventy-third birthday, suddenly finds herself a widow after fifty years of marriage to George. George’s departure precipitates a crisis of self. No longer able to define herself simply as ‘George’s wife’ or even ‘George’s widow’ she finds herself confronted by the past and unresolved questions of identity, sexuality, and gender. Cordelia’s odyssey, frequently confusing and sometimes painful ultimately brings her a modicum of joy and renewed faith.

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