Ms Cellophane, published by Momentum, is a digital reissuing of Polack’s previously titled Life through Cellophane published by Eneit Press in 2009.
It’s the tale of Elizabeth, a newly redundant public servant, who is finally free of an overbearing and underworking psychopath of a boss. Or so she thinks.
It’s a inward looking tale of a woman's self discovery. Redundancy gives her the time and space to find the person buried by life and work traumas.
It’s a tale of a mirror with its own unnerving and at times unpleasant agenda.
Kaaron Warren described it as “part gentle love story and part bizarre horror tale”. I think if forced, I’d be inclined to categorize it under general fiction as opposed to genre fiction.
There were elements of romance and a blossoming relationship but it’s not a central focus for me and so I’ll respectfully disagree with Kaaron. For me its more a drama than a romance. On the charge of bizarre horror tale I’ll quote one of the characters on the situation surrounding the mirror:
”if this were a horror tale we would know its[the mirror’s] parameters”
So for me the horror elements of the book are a little too nebulous and understated for it to fit wholly under horror. It sits on the boundary, perhaps unnerving magical realism might be worth chucking in here. Personally the more horrific part of the tale is the treatment of Elizabeth by her boss, all the more horrific because situations like this do occur.
Ultimately it’s a good read. I think Polack’s mix of perspectives; first person diarised accounts, juxtaposed with third person narrative gives us a very real sense of Elizabeth’s inner thoughts while not becoming overbearing. The novel takes awhile to pick up pace as we get to know Elizabeth but by the end we are treated to an edge of your seat mystery.
You’ll appreciate the work if you have ever had the fortune(misfortune?) to work for a government department and you enjoy a work that is focussed on a personal journey. The fantastical elements straddle that border between genre and literature so that if you are coming from either camp you won’t have an issue.
This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012. Please check out this page for more great writing from Australian women.
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