Books for Big Brains: Cory Taylor’s ‘Me and Mr Booker’

Every so often we’re sent new books that are written by women. We’ve decided to take advantage of this by publishing short, succinct reviews that give you the lowdown on the quality content found within each book’s pages. These reviews form part of an ongoing series: Books for Big Brains.

How could it get any better, you ask? Well, we want to give YOU the books for FREE. If you’d like to be among the first to get your hands on the latest publications, all you have to do is provide us with your opinion on the book you’re sent in the form of a 200-300 word review. Sound like a sweet deal? Get in touch with us!

Victoria McGlynn reviews

Me and Mr Booker

by Cory Taylor

☆☆☆☆½

The late Cory Taylor’s 2011 debut novel, Me and Mr Booker, is a provocative coming-of-age narrative filled with complex interpersonal relationships, love, sex, and all the frustrations, anxieties, and pleasures of youth.

Winner of the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize, Taylor’s novel centres on 16-year-old Martha who lives in a small country town in Australia. When Martha’s parents separate, both mother and daughter seem to gain some relief from Martha’s ill-tempered, emotionally abusive father, Victor. However, this is short-lived.

Trapped in the seemingly endless cycle of her parents separating and coming together again, Martha finds refuge with Mr and Mrs Booker, an eccentric, childless couple from England who immediately take her under their wing. Cracks in their marriage begin to show, with issues surfacing around their infertility and being torn between England and Australia. Martha’s subsequent affair with the flawed yet charming Mr Booker is fuelled by their mutual drinking habits and desperation to escape the tedium and claustrophobia of life in a small town.

One of the story’s most memorable characters, Victor, unmistakably imbibes traits similar to Taylor’s father, which she reveals in her 2017 Stella Prize shortlisted Dying: A MemoirLike Taylor’s father, Victor is restless, angry and depressed, a reluctant father and husband, and a pilot. He is unwilling to be staked down to people or places, yet is rooted to bourgeois life due to financial and emotional dependence on his wife. Readers may reluctantly take pity on him when framing his aggression with respect to his battle with mental illness.

Little details hint at the time period, but the story itself remains timeless.

Martha skirts the lines between girlhood and womanhood, joy and despair, and control and reckless abandon. Me and Mr Booker is an honest portrayal of love, angst and discontent that captures one’s empathy.

Would you have bought this book for yourself? 

Yes. It is short read that can be contemplated and enjoyed, and is perfectly giftable.

What kind of person would you buy this book as a gift for?   

This is the kind of book I would buy for a close friend, perhaps in their twenties, who can relate to Martha’s frustrations as she deals with her parents failings and the uncomfortable in-between years reaching adulthood.

What sort of book would you give a 1 star rating?  

For me, a 1 star book is an uncompelling narrative with two-dimensional, unsympathetic characters.

What sort of book would you give a 5 star rating?  

I would give 5 stars to a book that articulates sharp observations about life, is relatable and leaves a lasting impression through vivid setting, characters, good pacing and an interesting plot.

How many stars would you give this book?

I give this book 4 and a half stars.

Get your own copy of Me and Mr Booker here!


Review by Victoria McGlynn

Images by Bri Lee

Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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