Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones

Hand Me Down WorldHand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People lie. Not just to the world, but to themselves. This is the barb of truth at the end of “Hand Me Down World”, which, difficult though it may be to accept, is impossible to deny. Jones presents several witnesses on his quest to tell the story of the protagonist, whose fate seems doomed from the very first page. We hear accounts from those who apparently know this woman, or have known her intimately in the past, as well as installments from people whose paths crossed with her only briefly. We don’t hear the perspective of the woman herself until the very end, by which time we have had to reconsider everything we had previously assumed about her. We had begun by believing her to be the victim, for example, which while still the case, does not quite explain everything. And as the end draws near we begin to wonder if in fact “Ines”, which may or may not be her real name, is merely an actor on a stage. If that contention sits uncomfortably with you (she’s a woman who had her newborn baby stolen, afterall), the only alternative is to go right back to the beginning and reevaluate everything we have been told about her case from the outset. In doing so we soon realise that something is amiss – someone isn’t telling the truth. Unless there can be several truths?

Wherein lies the barb. Casting aspersions over the testimonies of those whose narratives came first makes you realise that everyone is but an actor, playing out roles in scenes of their own determination. Do we believe everything we’re told? Accept performances at face value?

This is such a clever book – once through will not be enough.

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