Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

img_4355This book is not for everyone.  There’s lots of “language” and casual (kind of icky) sex, plus domestic abuse references and mental health issues – but I really enjoyed it and read it quickly – in two days! The main character, Queenie Jenkins, is compelling and interesting, complex and flawed. She nearly drove me crazy making some very poor choices but I was always invested in her story. Queenie is a 25-year-old black British woman of Jamaican heritage and has just “taken a break” with her long-time (white) boyfriend. While her personal life is falling apart, her physical health and professional life are also suffering. She has some good friends and a sweet extended family but is very reluctant to get therapy to address long-standing issues from her past that are sabotaging her present. I found her struggle with anxiety and depression very convincing and I empathized with her. Carty-Williams does a great job of portraying a family and a culture where mental health issues aren’t talked about or dealt with other than just basically saying, “Yes, life’s hard, now soldier on.”

However, there are moments of humor which go a long way towards breaking up the heavy issues. The jacket says it’s “darkly comic” and I’d agree with that. Really good stuff, if you want some contemporary fiction and are okay with your characters making questionable choices!  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Favorite passage:

“…well, he asked to buy me a drink, but I very firmly said no.”

“Oh, well done.”

“Thanks. He was one of those mainstream millenials, which wasn’t so appealing, but I wouldn’t have let him buy me a drink even if he wasn’t. He didn’t try to bang me on sight, though, so that’s something, I guess.”

“What’s a mainstream millenial?” Darcy asked.

“Have I made this term up?” I questioned myself. “I’m sure I’ve seen it on the Internet. You know, those men: bike riding, knitted sweater? Pretends Facebook isn’t important to him, but it really is?” I was met with a blank stare, so carried on. “Craft beer, start-ups, sense of entitlement? Reads books by Alain de Botton, needs a girlfriend who doesn’t threaten his mediocrity?”

“Oh, right,” Darcy said, not as mediocre-man-hating as me. “Anyway, well done, you! One of these days we’ll have a whole week of conversation where we can pass the Bechdel test!”



29 thoughts on “Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

  1. This was one of my book of the month picks but I haven’t read it yet. I was drawn to it because Queenie was described as a struggling writer. But a lot of people have mentioned the icky sex and those bits always turns me off of a book 😕 I’m glad you enjoyed it overall though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, icky sex isn’t too appealing and frankly I didn’t get the punchline of the quote – I suspect I may be too far removed from contemporary youth culture to get the reference! Which, oddly, makes me quite happy… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂

      The icky sex wasn’t appealing at all! Luckily, there were other elements that I enjoyed. The main character is appealing even though she makes really bad choices.

      So, I Googled the Bechdel Test: “The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.” I’ve heard it here and there on blogs the past 5 years or so, but before that it wasn’t on my radar at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know Queeie is making the rounds at the library right now, getting placed on all sorts of recommended read lists. I know Zadie Smith writes about Jamaican women in England, and while I get it, I’m also disconnected from both cultures enough that I don’t get invested. Or maybe it’s just Smith’s writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. haha mainstream millennial is new to me but that is funny. This sounds like a great read and I do like the sound of the MC. I don’t mind characters making wrong choices. I might not agree with them but I am okay as long as the author writes them in a way that makes it easy to understand why they would make such choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m really excited to read this one-it’s going to be something I’m reviewing on the radio I think, so hopefully I like it! The fact that you did gives me hope, our tastes tend to run the same I think…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised by how quickly I read it!

      On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve been reading Mavis Gallant’s Home Truths veeeerrrrryyyy slowly. Her stories are so wonderful and big and interesting that I can only read one at a time, and have to have a few days break in between. And it’s on my Kindle app, which means I read it on my phone, so that makes a difference too. But I am really enjoying them. My favorite so far is the one about the young woman who gets sick, Virus X.


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