Thursday, 18 March 2010

No more than human (Laverty) 210

I read and hugely enjoyed Never no more just before embarking on the VVV challenge, and didn't actually realise there was a sequel, until the lovely Victoria at Virago happened on a spare copy of No more than human and passed it my way.

Following on from Never No More, No more than human is a coming of age novel that reveals what happened to Delia after her Gran dies. Delia remains a fantastic heroine and is hugely entertaining in what she gets up to. The book opens with her departure to become a governess in Spain, which promises a whole host of adventures. There is no huge plotline as such, rather the book is an account of her moves through various jobs, pensions, and love affairs, all the while falling in and out of trouble. She starts out as a governess, but her employer is absolutely horrified by her appearance, Delia having made a special effort on her arrival in Spain - but a coat which her relatives thought was still wearable is tatty and too small, her hair washed on the boat has dried oddly, and the lipstick she was given is of an orange shade that definitely does not suit her! From this start Delia constantly falls into scrapes earning her employer's disapproval, and resigns several times, only to have to return because a friend advises her that it is silly to leave without finding another position (and because her employer needs her more than she lets on to look after her children). Eventually she moves on to another governess position, only to have to leave that after 7 months after getting a little too friendly with a man at a ball which she attends. Realising that she will be unable to get another position in Madrid, she moves on to live in a pension and teach as a private governess. This is hard at first as she doesn't have many pupils but it gives her the freedom that she craves. From this she rejects a job which turns out to be as a position of an escort, and ends up doing office work. And she gets engaged to a Spaniard. The book ends in both a surprising, but also not altogether unexpected way, but I won't give anymore away here because I really do want you to get a copy of this!

As before, Laverty writes particularly well about food, and there were lots of lovely descriptive passages of Spanish cooking. My favourite line related to when Delia had few pupils, and although the food at the pension was good, she could not afford to have very many meals. As someone who is suffering from being rather too thin at the moment following a long illness, this line rather tickled me:
"After four months in Mrs Hansen's pension, I had hipbones that would have cut cabbage"

It's just been published once by Virago, although my copy was a print on demand of the original printed in 2004. Sadly there aren't any other Laverty novels in the VMC list, but I might look out for some more by her, and I see she has written some cookbooks which must be absolutely fascinating! 4*


  1. Oooo! I remember loving Never No More and don't think I realized that it had a sequel!

  2. Hi Wendy, thanks for popping in - do seek it out, it is different from Never no more, but really good!