More Patina than Gleam by Jane Aldous
Poetry 30th March 2023
Print 978-1-913665-78-4 £9.99
eBook 978-1-913665-79-1 £4.00
In her 70th year, Jane Aldous decided to write 70 poems, exploring a fictionalised version of a life she almost lived.
This series of poems, based in post war Edinburgh, tell the story of Linda, fleeing with her 11 year old daughter from England and an abusive relationship. In hiding as a lady’s companion in one of the city’s suburbs, mother and daughter settle into their new life in Elsie’s rackety house, and encounter a variety of characters who will change their lives forever.
More Patina than Gleam celebrates outsiders getting by in hard times – the day to day grind of cleaning a house, periods, prejudice, ageing, sexuality and falling in and out of love. The poems are not autobiographical, but Jane Aldous, whose own mother used to say that she could have run away with Jane when she was a baby, has gently torn scraps from her own life to add to the collage.
Subtly depicts interlinking urban lives with warmth, shining humour and wry, at times unsettling, characterization, capturing the domestic impacts of immense social upheaval in post-war Scotland and beyond. A must for readers of Agnes Owen and Muriel Spark.
A novella in seventy sonnets, and a page turner at that – some achievement! Aldous has given us a rare treat. An absorbing narrative of both actual and emotional journeys are given life on the page by her careful attention to setting
and detail – we are conscious of being safely steered home by an assured and fluent poetic hand.
“The book brings together characters who survive on the verges. Their lives are messy and flawed but in their tentative relationships, they discover possibilities… Aldous has told the story of an ordinary person; “she could be / your mother – aunt – sister – child”. But she has done so with an understanding that, in truth, no human being is merely ordinary. A brilliant read.” – Reader Review, Waterstones.com
“Intriguingly, [More Patina than Gleam] is a story composed of 70 sonnets, untraditional in that they do not follow a particular rhyme scheme apart from the odd couplet. There is scant punctuation, with within-line spaces separating the phrases… This was a pleasant surprise that called to mind works by Muriel Spark and Sarah Waters.” – Bookish Beck