From Publisher's Weekly: The late British literary critic Sage spent her youth in the home of her grandparents, in the vicarage of Hanmer, a village in Flintshire, England. Her father was off fighting in World War II, her mother off in her own dreamy rerun of adolescence, so young Lorna hung onto the "skirts" of her vicar grandpa, a histrionic, bitterly intelligent philanderer with the "habit of living irritably in his imagination." His idiosyncrasies were almost endearing: he spent days stalking the graveyard muttering Shakespearean soliloquies and blacking out the spines of the books in his library to deter casual theft. Grandma, "a fat doll tottering on tiny swollen feet," considered Hanmer a "dead-alive dump" and never forgave her husband for talking her into marriage and leaving the gynocentric Eden of her family's shop in South Wales. What made her grandparents' marriage "more than a run-of-the-mill case of domestic estrangement" was Grandma's "refusal to accept her lot" she remained "furious" with her husband and, by extension, with all men, including her daughter's and granddaughter's husbands. In such a dysfunctional household, where "nobody wants to play the part of parent," Sage didn't have the option of passing for normal not that the "functional illiteracy" of her village peers was anything to envy. Ultimately, it was books and sheer orneriness her grandpa's "bad blood" that saved her from the oblivion her mother and grandmother had chosen. Sage finds such delicious ironies in all the awful detail that readers can't help but be entertained., wickedly.
Bad Blood was thoroughly enjoyable, in a macabre way. Lorna Sage's memoir records, among other things, the appalling and absurd dysfunctional marriage of her grandparents. The point of view is that of both child and reminiscing adult, and I'm not sure which is wiser. Sage must have been a great, peculiar kid herself. It is not a sad book, nor is it irrelevant--there were moments when I thought to myself that the grandparents were, in their bizarre way, acting out the worst we could potentially be in our relationships, if we allowed ourselves.