Daughters by Lucy Fricke is published with V&Q Books and is seamlessly translated by Sinéad Crowe. It is described as ‘a wildly funny novel…..women-on-the-edge-of-a-nervous breakdown Betty and Martha take us on a madcap journey through Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Greece, as they try to resolve their relationships with their all-too frail and human fathers’ Awarded the Bavarian Book Prize in 2018, Daughters (Töchter) is Lucy Fricke’s fourth novel.
Daughters is the story of two best friends, Betty and Martha as they embark on a road-trip across Europe with a difference. Betty is in Rome when she receives a call from Martha. Martha needs her by her side fast. Martha’s father, Kurt, is terminally ill and as Betty, on her return discovers, he has a plan. Having booked himself into a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland the following week, he asks Martha to drive him there. But Martha is incapable of driving following a car accident that had a traumatic effect on her nerves. She has a big ask for Betty. She wants Betty to be their driver.
‘”A 1996 Volkswagon Golf. Twenty years accident-free” I turned the key and heard a low croak. We reanimated a corpse, wound down the window and pulled away’
And so begins a journey across Europe, one littered with virtual road-blocks and obstacles. We look closely at the lives of Martha and Betty as they explore and examine their relationships with their fathers and with themselves. With very scintillating conversations and some wonderful dialogue, Lucy Fricke delves deep into the lives of Betty and Martha. Both have father issues and this has had a huge impact on the direction of their lives. Martha and Betty are searching for the respect and love of their fathers. It’s like the final piece of the puzzle that will unlock this constant feeling of being a disappointment.
When translator Sinéad Crowe originally heard Lucy Fricke read from Daughters for the first time she was completely taken aback by the reception that it got. This was German literature that was very funny indeed. She decided to look for a publisher who would consider a translated version and was thrilled when V & Q secured the rights and asked her ‘to do the honours.’ But Sinéad Crowe feared that, in translation, the humour would be lost.
“Humour is widely considered one of the most difficult things to translate. I pictured my translation as a bad stand-up comedian delivering dud one-liners to a heckling audience. Every time I came across another instance of Lucy’s linguistic inventiveness, I gulped.”
The translation is superb. I laughed. I cried. I was completely caught up in the story of Martha and Betty. I am a woman of a certain age so their humour appealed to me completely. These are two women whose lives are falling apart at the seams but the one staple holding them together is their friendship and their unrelenting support for each other. They never make it to the clinic in Switzerland but, instead, they take the reader with them from Switzerland through Italy and into Greece, where the adventures continue.
“We drank like we hadn’t done in years, until we forgot, until we believed we finally understood ourselves again. In Genoa, the fountains glimmered, the streets emptied, and though we couldn’t see the port, we could smell it. We smelled the sea, a mixture of sewage and freedom”
Daughters is a wonderful piece of fiction. it is a very captivating and emotive read about relationships, in particular that special bond of female friendship. Life and death are explored very sensitively with plenty of humour injected throughout offering many laugh-out-loud moments in every chapter. Sinéad Crowley has done an exceptional job in translation, capturing the wit and the sense of longing with ease. Lucy Fricke’s writing is very expressive with Daughters littered with some wonderful dialogue and descriptions throughout making it a pure joy to read.
Now before I sign off I must mention the cover. The design is so very distinctive and extremely striking, with a similar style across all three new releases. I know judging a book by it’s cover is not necessarily the recommended advice but these are most definitely worthy of all the praise! Huge credit to V&Q Books and to the design team at Pingundpong.
(c) Swirl and Thread
Order your copy online here.