I am awestruck.
The reason the Manolo recommends this book to you is not just because Linda Grant is the friend, but because The Clothes on the Backs is among the best things the Manolo has read in many years.
There are many reasons the Manolo loves this book, one of the most important of which is that our friend Linda does such the masterful job of demonstrating one of the Manolo’s core beliefs: that the clothes we choose to wear say volumes about us, not just about that which we choose to reveal, but also that which we attempt to conceal.
Linda Grant’s memorable characters wear memorable clothes that aptly reflect their status, their personalities, their era, and their internal condition. And so, if you love clothes and you love shoes, and are prepared to think about them in complex and meaningful ways, you will find this book very satisfying.
But, beyond this narrative facility with fashion, the Manolo especially loves the Clothes on their Backs because there is real life in this book–messy, complex, disappointing, sometimes difficult, sometimes glorious life–our preconceptions are overthrown, moral clarity is difficult to come by, and, just as in real life, things rarely go as we would have wished. In the end, however, the message comes through, you cannot shirk life, you can only live it.
So, you must buy The Clothes on Their Backs and read about Uncle Sandor and Vivien, and their clothes, and their lives, for in all ways this novel has to it the ring of authentic truth.