As You Were by Elaine Feeney reviewed

As You Were Book Cover As You Were
Elaine Feeney
Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
April 16, 2020

Sinéad Hynes is a tough, driven, funny young property developer with a terrifying secret.

No-one knows it: not her fellow patients in a failing hospital, and certainly not her family. She has confided only in Google and a shiny magpie.

But she can’t go on like this, tirelessly trying to outstrip her past and in mortal fear of her future. Across the ward, Margaret Rose is running her chaotic family from her rose-gold Nokia. In the neighboring bed, Jane, rarely but piercingly lucid, is searching for a decent bra and for someone to listen. Sinéad needs them both.

As You Were is about intimate histories, institutional failures, the kindness of strangers, and the darkly present past of modern Ireland. It is about women’s stories and women’s struggles. It is about seizing the moment to be free.

Wildly funny, desperately tragic, inventive and irrepressible, As You Were introduces a brilliant voice in Irish fiction with a book that is absolutely of our times.

As You Were by Elaine Feeney is about a young woman, Sinéad, who is in hospital. The only “people” who she has confided in about her real reason for being there are Google and a magpie! This is her story and is billed as “wildly funny and desperately tragic”. She is in a mixed ward with some very “mixed” people.

It did take me a while to get into Sinéad’s story. Indeed I’m not fully sure I really ever managed it. The narrative bounces around with great energy. Sometimes it is narrative, sometimes it is far more “stream of consciousness”. It certainly is a modern style of writing.

I found myself becoming really engaged with parts of As You Were. Often this was the “tragic” parts – some were introspective, others were about events. On the other hand parts simply left me disinterested and I find it hard to work out exactly why. I guess it is probably the style of the writing. Personally I found it hard to read given the sudden switches in topic, style etc. There is no doubt that some will love this book. I certainly wanted to when I started it however it didn’t really work for me.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review