Sometimes, an author is just a little unlucky. Okay, it seems weird to say that about a Women’s Prize listed author, but I still believe this to be the case. Because, you see I think Claire Cameron (author of The Bear) had a great idea and a fairly original voice… and then got pipped to the post by Room.
The Bear is written in the voice of a six year old girl who ends up looking after her small brother, after their parents get eaten by a bear. So far, so different to Room. But in reality, the story of the girl’s attempts to understand the world and make sense of the difficult things and emotions happening around her are very reminiscent of Room. As is the end part of the book, where the girl tries to unwind the trauma she has experienced.
The problem with a second book of this nature is, I think, not that it is not as a good as Room (though maybe it’s not) but that the second time, it’s just not quite as powerful. The reader comes to terms with the child’s voice and approach more quickly, and finds it easier to assimilate her way of thinking, despite her challenging situation.
If you haven’t read Room, give this novel a go first and let me see if my theory works in reverse. And if you have, by all means give it a read, it’s a well-written interesting novel. But prepare to be a little blasé about it.