Ladybird, ladybird by Milka Sculac Sennett

Ladybird, ladybird

byMilka Sculac Sennett

Kobo ebook | December 3, 2012

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“Ladybird, ladybird” by Milka Sculac Sennett
Is it possible to jump off the Millennium Bridge? contemplates the 58 year woman as the excrement-coloured Thames streams copiously underneath. Her daughter is turning eighteen but she still cannot figure out the colour of her eyes and whether the father is part of the family portrait or not. As a part of “closing down her old life” she is clearing out her wardrobe and planning the sale of her car and flat. As she finds an old top, bringing back “the memory of the first scan when the baby was only 7weeks and 2 days” she realises that “you never recover from certain things in life”.
George McFayden, her manager in the translation company GlobalGlot where she’s been working for over 20 years, is a nasty piece of work convinced that all women hate him and cannot wait to replace her with an ambitious young man, Boris, and is aware that she is approaching the end of her work life as well.
After hurting her ankle she ends up in the A&E at Whipps Cross Hospital where she was rushed to 18 years previously... 
Nando, a Brazilian writer who she has spent many hours chatting to in the local restaurant, has been lying in the cardiology department of the same hospital for weeks with no one visiting him. He asks her to deal with his funeral “as he does not have anyone else and she cannot possibly refuse the wish of a dying man.”  A colleague from the agency, Andre, helps her to make sense of Nando’s instructions in Portuguese. His flat is an empty reminder of just how easy is to live on your own in London. Loneliness nests in every corner of it and she suddenly breaks down, unable to control her tears and high-pitched shrieks.
As she returns to the office on a pleasant spring day a tiny orangey ladybird lands on her palm and she realised that she does not want to die in a foreign and unfamiliar place and it’s time for her to leave London. Her flat is finally on sale and she writes her resignation letter. In Amato Café in Soho she meets her ex-husband Jason for the last time.
The earliest memory she treasures is the one of the morning her great-grandmother, nonna Lucija takes her to the café where her mother works to meet her father for the only time in her life as he “remained an uncanny and incidental dot on the map of her life”. They live in Lovran, a tiny coastal town in what was then Yugoslavia. Nonna Lucija is a brave and determined woman whose husband died long ago, her son has emigrated to Venezuela, her daughter married away and she now takes in her pregnant granddaughter. Her main loves are: cooking, praying and sewing “not necessary in that order” and she leaves a long-lasting impression on the main character.
The boy she picks blackberries with, Fabian, later becomes her first boyfriend but the relationship doesn’t last long as she is desperate to leave the place and he wants to stay.  Sam Shepard walks into her life when she is an aspiring young actress and he is a married and successful restaurateur. It is “a fatal attraction of inconvenience and carelessness; with passion galore and zero reasoning.” Lara, her most loyal friend throughout her life, disapproves; but  it’s Sam Shepard who helps Lara sort out a tricky situation. 
Nick Kamen is the first “appropriate” boyfriend she has; young and good-looking, a former footballer turned journalist, but with a very domineering mother.
A lucky break in her career as an actress brings her on tour to London; as she celebrates the success of “Medea” in London in a pub in Richmond, she meets Jason, a shy lawyer. They flirt, walk down the river bank and end up in his bedsit.  After contemplating on “how do you make decisions that do not turn into mistakes? Or ones that do?” she invites him to visit her “communist country”.
The narrator is in her late thirties and her marriage is disintegrating. She contemplates about “her ovaries as an identifier in the social order of the human race”, aware that “society is not for outcasts bearing grudges”. And while Jason tries to address the problem with a cold, business head, she finds it increasingly difficult to deal with it all; the hospital appointments and tests as well as friends with kids. The treatment doesn’t work and she feels betrayed by her body. The pains, soreness, swollen wrists and ankles dictate their life.
Her pregnant friend Sophia who already has a daughter, lives in leafy suburbia and keeps inviting them to her parties full of parents with young kids.  When the medical profession exhausts all options and they give up hope, it happens naturally and she sees a furious heartbeat on the scan at 7 days 2 weeks.
Arguments all of a sudden take over their life; in the restaurant, in front of Homebase, the pharmacy, at home.  They start avoiding each other and then Jason is not there any longer. He gets a young trainee pregnant and moves to Wales. The pain in her chest “like an enlarging balloon spreading in all directions” is similar to the one she experienced when nonna Lucija died. “Hell couldn’t be half as hard as the pain of your life after it fells completely apart.”

Title:Ladybird, ladybirdFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:December 3, 2012Publisher:Milka Sculac SennettLanguage:English

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