There’s an acceptance at the heart of it all – things are the way they are and sometimes all we can do is try and understand them as best we can.
Author: Samantha Clark
Finished on: 11 June 2021
Where did I get this book: Won in an Instagram giveaway!
When Samantha Clark’s parents die, she and her brothers must begin the Herculean task of sorting out the crumbling house they lived in for the last 45 years of their lives. The Clearing is an arrestingly honest account of this process, and the grief and reflections into the past that come with it.
It may be a true account of Clark’s experiences, but that doesn’t stop there being some big old metaphors in there. The house itself stands as one giant representation of the lives and relationships within her family. In many ways broken, unmanageable, too much to cope with, but containing moments of loveliness and poignancy.
As well as being a writer, and a visual artist, Clark is also fascinated by science and cosmology, and the book is full of analogies between the world her family inhabited and the world of spacetime. This might sound a strange way to understand your parents and your childhood, but by coming at some difficult reflections through this sideways lens, it somehow makes them easier to see.
Remembering her mother’s mental health problems and the enormous impact they had on Clark as she was growing up, as well as her father’s withdrawal into himself, is a painful process, but this is such a gentle, thoughtful book it never feels harrowing. There’s an acceptance at the heart of it all – things are the way they are and sometimes all we can do is try and understand them as best we can. It is shocking in its frankness at times, but Clark is always kind and forgiving, both of herself and of her family.
This is a read that slows you down, brings about a contemplative frame of mind where you look up from its pages and really look at the things around you and reflect on what they mean to you.
It also has the distinction of one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen in a long time. Inspired by Clark’s own art, the mesmerising repetition of shapes that resemble sea foam, bubbles and clouds, this book is a thing of absolute beauty – I’m tempted to frame it and pop it up on the wall.