Allegra in Three Parts made me cry, I’m not going to hide it. Grab your tissues, because this story of a young girl (Allegra, aged 11 and three-quarters) who has to be one person for one grandmother, another for the other, and a third for her dad, really tugs at the heartstrings. Allegra’s being brought up by her Hungarian Jewish grandmother Matilde, and her other grandmother, Joy, who fights for women’s safety and rights, lives next door. Joy’s son Rick lives above the garage of Matilde’s house. Matilde and Joy don’t speak, Joy and Rick barely speak, and Matilde and Rick don’t speak. Allegra’s in the middle and it hurts her heart more than she realises.
This is the blurb:
Eleven-year-old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn’t be more different. Matilde works all hours and instils discipline, duty and restraint. She insists that Allegra focus on her studies to become a doctor.
Meanwhile free-spirited Joy is full of colour, possibility and emotion, storing all her tears in little glass bottles. She is riding the second wave of the women’s movement in the company of her penny tortoise, Simone de Beauvoir, encouraging Ally to explore broad horizons and live her ‘true essence’.
And then there’s Rick who lives in a flat out the back and finds distraction in gambling and solace in surfing. He’s trying to be a good father to Al Pal, while grieving the woman who links them all but whose absence tears them apart.
Allegra is left to orbit these three worlds wishing they loved her a little less and liked each other a lot more. Until one day the unspoken tragedy that’s created this division explodes within the person they all cherish most.
I was captivated by Allegra’s voice – it’s innocent and empathic and searching all at once – and related so much to her yearning for harmony between the three people she loved most in the world. I loved the beautifully drawn relationships between every character, especially Allegra’s with Matilde and with Rick, and her friendship with Patricia was an added bonus to a great cast. Like I said, this book made me cry … and it also made me miss my Oma, who I spent many happy times with as a child and young woman. Don’t miss it and grab tissues.
My copy was courtesy of the publisher.
For more of Monique Mulligan’s writing on books, check out her blog