It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.
Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War-those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?
Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton's My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan's lives...and of how every life means the entire world.
So intriguing. What is real, what is not? Maybe both are real and she can see them when her life is ending?
This is the life of Patricia. She goes to uni, she becomes a teacher. She marries Mark. She has 4 children. Her homelife is not happy, but the world is a nice place.
It is also the story of Patricia. She goes to uni, she becomes a teacher, she leaves Mark. She meets Bee. She has a wonderful life where she travels to Italy each summer. She has 3 children. But the world is a horrible place where countries nuke each other, and being gay you have no rights like you have in her other world.
In her old age Patricia remembers both these lives, but does not know which one is real. We get to read about them side by side. 40s Pat, 40s Tricia and so it goes on. It moves splendidly, I never got confused. Her two lives are so different. In one world she is not always happy, but the world is good. In the other life she is truly happy, but the world truly sucks. Which world do I want to be real?
A great premise to a story, that turned out well. I am glad I finally had the chance to read Walton, she truly is a good writer.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Tor Books (first published May 20th 2014)