Reviews

Little Prisons by Ilona Bannister @IlonaBannister @JohnMurrays #LittlePrisons #NotAllPrisonsHaveBars #TheClqrt #BookReview #BookBlog #RecommendedReading

23rd June Two Roads

Book Description

Four women live in a non-descript building in a gentrifying corner of London.

PENNY is doing a daily battle with her mind. She is convinced that the world outside her door is dangerous, though her heart knows it isn’t.

CARLA, her next-door neighbour, an American expat and single mother of two teens, is two worn down by her controlling ex to escape her situation.

MABLE, a Jamaican pensioner and devout Jehovah’s Witness, lives upstairs. She’s sacrificed everything for her faith, including her relationship with her family.

And WOMAN, the housekeeper and nanny on the second floor has been trafficked. When she’s not cooking and cleaning for the family, she works in the launderette the landlord owns on the ground floor. A hidden slave in full view.

Slowly these isolated women become aware of each other’s stories. And through small acts of kindness, they help each other to rebuild their lives.

My Thoughts

Thank you to the author for arranging for me to receive a proof copy of Little Prisons, along with a finished copy of When I Ran Away which I had previously read and reviewed here.

Little Prisons is frankly an incredible read. Four women connected by proximity alone, they live in the same block of flats, they see each other in passing, maybe, but otherwise they live their lives largely unnoticed. Four women.

The writing is original and fluid, moving between the women, although the story is told chronologically. The writing is excellent, the stories of these women told in a moving, honest and sensitive manner. I could imagine them, imagine living alongside them, imagine wanting to help them.

For this is a story about poverty, about trafficking; modern slavery and it is a book about mental health and domestic abuse – coercive control. All human problems, all problems that affect women and can leave them isolated and alone, frightened and vulnerable. The book moves to a point of connection and support but for a lot of the stories this is about isolation and struggle. I say stories because this book could be described as 4 interspersed stories about women and actually writing this that feels like a better way of explaining the narrative.

In writing this the author has succeeded in offering a tangible insight into these unique but all too common problems, the experience of being trafficked the powerlessness and fear that accompanies that, is similar to being in a controlling relationship and we saw this with Carla who although appeared freer, had her choices limited and lived under a veil of fear. For Penny the fear of the world was petrifying and she lived a small life because of her mental health. Mable was a bit different, she knew the women, she saw them all as she moved through the neighbourhood spreading God’s Word, but her commitment to her religion had left her alone and lonely, impoverished her life shrunk and her family estranged.

And then along came a pandemic…

I can’t over emphasise not only how good this book is but also how important a read it is. It is available to buy now so I am strongly recommending you add it to your list!!

Thanks again to the Ilona Bannister for the copy of the book and to you all for taking the time to read this.

About the Author

Ilona Bannister is a dual qualified US attorney and UK solicitor. She practiced UK immigration law before taking a break to raise her sons. A native New Yorker, Ilona is married to an Englishman and raising two young sons in London.

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