The Chronicles of Narmo is Caitlin Moran's first and, as far as I know, only work of fiction. She wrote it when she was 15, it was published when she was 16, and essentially that is the least fair thing in the world. Or, I should say, it would be the least fair thing in the world if it sucked, but since this is Caitlin we're talking about, and her entire body of work is like catnip to me (Caitlin... catnip... No?) of course it didn't suck. In fact, it was pretty awesome.
In one, really tenuous way, this book reminded me of Little Women. It's actually nothing like Little Women, but hear me out. The way it's written is kind of episodic, and each chapter is about a different event in the lives of the Narmo family.* I feel like this is kind of like Little Women in that that book also has a different thing going on in each chapter, and could almost be separated into tiny short stories, and this one could be too. Oh, and ALSO it starts and ends at Christmas, so there's that.
Basically, I only think it's like Little Women because when I read it I thought 'I bet Caitlin had read Little Women just before she wrote this', and so apparently I think it's cool to compare them. Yeah.
Anyway, moving swiftly on! The Chronicles of Narmo pretty much does what it says on the tin- it's the chronicles of the Narmo family and the way they negotiate everyday life. And the way they do that is this: by being not-very-well off, home-schooling their kids, and generally being hilarious and excellent and making-do and mending. SORT OF LIKE THE REAL MORAN FAMILY (see what she did there?) Because, yes, Caitlin Moran did write this when she was 15, and lived in a presumably hilarious and excellent home-schooled family, and, I mean, isn't everyone's attempt at a novel when they're 15 basically their life story?
Even though that's sort of the case here, it's definitely not a bad thing. I think there's a kind of perception of novels by teens (or, at least there is in my brain) that they're going to be overly autobiographical, and whiny and just terrible- like the poetry teenagers write, you know. But that is SO not the case here- Caitlin has clearly had a gift for comedy forever, because she wrote this with the lightest of touches, and the kind of teeny and realistic details that made me giggle on the bus, a lot. Stuff like a failed holiday in a mobile home, or a family wedding just become hilarious in her hands.
Obviously I'm fairly predisposed to love Caitlin, and so I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed this even if it hadn't been so great, because yay! Caitlin! Your development as a writer is so fun to see! BUT it honestly is hilarious just in and of itself and I'm pretty sure that even people who don't enjoy it when she writes about, you know, her opinions and stuff (damn woman) would, or at least could, still enjoy this book. And I enjoyed it a whole lot as you can probably tell. In related news, it has just been republished, so, you know, get on that.**
*Just by the by, it BLEW MY MIND when, about a week after I finished this, my brain went 'Narmo... Moran. OMG.' Anagrams ftw.
**This whole post seems like a bit of a mess to me cause I wrote it in about 3 sittings and I feel like I haven't written a review for ages. So, bear with me/be kind, please!
It's an anagram?! Good god, that's just pure genius. Feeling a little silly that I'd not noticed that. I feel a bit unsure about reading this. On the one hand I'm like 'it's Caitlin, she is a comic babe' but on the other I'm a bit like 'but she was 15 and isn't there a touch of pretentiousness about that?'. I'm not judgmental at all...ReplyDelete
It does sound funny though so maybe I will read it, perhaps when I'm in need of some comic relief!
It IS an anagram! Isn't that amaaazing?! Hehehe. I totally get the pretentious argument, and having read the book, I feel like this about it- whilst it is INCREDIBLY pretentious to have had a book published at the age of 16, the way this book is written is neither pretentious OR overdone, OR overdone- I hesitate to say it, but it might be just right.Delete
Or, you know, I really liked it. And YES, it's great for comic relief!
Part of me is like "YAY MORE CAITLIN" and another part of me is like "Ugghh, but written by 15 year old". I mean I KNOW you said it's still good and not awful teenage-poetry-like, but still. I am skeptical.ReplyDelete
I mean, just... You know how Caitlin is all awesome? That sort of means she was an awesome teenager (yes, they exist. Rarely, but still) and she kind of had a lot of her mad writing skills when she was that age, it seems to me. And also, it's CAITLINNNNNN.Delete
If I stumble on this book I might read it. I will definitely re-read Moranthology though. Between your post and my friend talking about Sherlock, I sort of HAVE toDelete
I'm here in support of your return-to-book-reviewing, because I also know how hard it is to jump back in with that. ;)ReplyDelete
I've never heard of this book, and somehow when I first glanced at the titles I thought it said Narnia instead of Narmo, so I was also a little confused as well as curious. Also, count me among your followers who hadn't picked up on the name anagram. I was sitting there puzzling over why she'd choose such an awkward name for her family. Now that I know, I think it would have been more fun if she'd chosen Ranmo or Manro because they'd be easier to pun off of. Which is clearly not at all contributing in a meaningful way to your post, but there you go.
Hehehe, but look how well we're doing Emily! We're doing great!Delete
I'm pretty sure I have called this the Chronicles of Narnia a fair few times in my brain (before I owned it, mostly) so I understand that urge! I feel like Ranmo would have been AWESOME, but Narmo works for me. I'm still just impressed that there is an anagram at all lol!
Ahahaha I'm terrible at anagrams and never would've figured that out.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad this was good! I'll def read it now. And by 'now'...I of course mean in five years. Because my track record for now is not good.
I totally didn't see the anagram. I am the most oblivious.ReplyDelete
And despite not loving that book of her's I read, I DO really want to read this, because you make it sound so funny and wonderful, and HEY, Christmas!