New from the Sunday Times bestselling author of QUEENIE
– People Person
[ About the Book ]
Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues.
Dimple has bigger things to think about. She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone.
That is, until a catastrophic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
[ My Review ]
People Person by Candice Carty-Williams published April 28th with Trapeze and is described as ‘a propulsive story of heart, humour, homecoming, and about the truest meaning of family you can get when your dad loves his jeep more than he loves his children.‘
For me there were two sides to People Person, the rather light-hearted tale of how a family of siblings become reunited under very stressful circumstances and, on the other side, a powerful message about racial attitudes in society and how its impact feeds down through the generations.
Cyril Pennington is a father to five children that we know of, but he has never been present in their lives. Cyril bangs his own drum in life, a happy-go-lucky sort with obvious commitment issues. In the words of his eldest daughter Nikisha ‘a people person. A cheerful man. A social man. He liked to laugh, and to make people laugh. An extrovert, he led with happiness and confidence. He was truly a man who didn’t dwell on the bad. Life to him was about finding happiness in the smallest things.’ On a whim one day Cyril decides it’s time for these five half-siblings (different mothers) to meet up. To Cyril it just simply occurred to him that they were probably at an age that was appropriate for this little impromptu get-together, giving no thought whatsoever as to how the five would react. Cyril doesn’t really see any difficulty in his decision so he preps himself and climbs into his car, ‘a shining gold Jeep. It was his pride and joy. Most, if not all, of the money he should have spent on child support, or even living slightly more comfortably, went on the gold Jeep. He truly loved it more than anything else in his life and he didn’t see a problem with that.’
His children were Nikisha and her brother Prynce (mother Bernice), Danny (mother Tracy), Dimple (mother Janet) and Lizzie (mother Kemi). All have been reared single-handedly by strong women who accepted that Cyril was never going to be around. Once Cyril introduced his five children to each other, it was almost as though his job here was done. As far as he was concerned what happened next was very much up to them. On that day Nikisha commented that she would always be there for them, as the eldest, if ever needed but for years the interaction between all five was scant. Then one day many, many years later Nikisha receives a call from Dimple, one that will have huge repercussions on all their lives.
Now, all grown adults with jobs and responsibilities, they gather in Dimple’s house after a round-up by Nikisha. The atmosphere is strained but there is a crisis which must be dealt with.
Dimple is in her thirties now, a wanna-be influencer who has been molly-coddled all her life by her mother, Janet. Dimple has always been a very sensitive person, very much in touch with her emotions. When a situation occurs that she just cannot cope with alone, she turns to her siblings for some reason confident that she can trust them. With Nikisha at the helm, a plan is formed and these brothers and sisters form a bond over the most unlikely of circumstances.
Each of the five brings their own personality to the story. They all have a shared past with Cyril and their mothers but they all took different paths, some tougher than others. They have all experienced racism at some point in their lives and have all felt the lack of a father-figure growing up. They now clash on many points, seeing life through different lenses but yet the invisible threads of family slowly weave their way around the five.
People Person wonderfully captures the dynamic of the sibling relationship and how interpretations of circumstances can vary from person to person. Suddenly there is a presence in your life, a brother, a sister, who will pick on your faults, who will not tolerate your bad habits and who will speak honestly about your characteristics. Some of the five struggle with this more than others. Nikisha the eldest feels a sense of responsibility all the time, whereas Prynce, the youngest, is much more laid back about life and the path he may yet choose, or not. They slot into their respective roles without really even noticing it, as the drama continues to unfold.
People Person is a very entertaining novel about a messy and dysfunctional family. The Pennington children are marvelously depicted with all their varied personalities spilling from the pages, all rooted in the immigrant story. The dialogue is top-notch between all the different characters and vivid descriptions create a very strong visual of all. It is most certainly a tale that you just have to be willing to accept and not ask too many questions of, but it is a fun and lively story that captures the imagination. With a tender edge and an underlying darker message running through it, Candice Carty-Williams has created a refreshing and thought-provoking tale, one I’m sure will appeal to all her fans, both new and old.
[ Bio ]
Candice Carty-Williams was born in 1989, the result of an affair between a Jamaican cab driver and a dyslexic Jamaican-Indian receptionist. She is a journalist, screenwriter, and author of the Sunday Times bestselling Queenie, a book described as ‘vital’, ‘disarmingly honest’ and ‘boldly political’. In 2016, Candice created and launched the Guardian and 4th Estate BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) Short Story Prize, the first inclusive initiative of its kind in book publishing. As a journalist she has written for the Guardian, i-D, Vogue International, every iteration of the Sunday Times, BEAT Magazine, Black Ballad and more. She will probably always live in South London.
Twitter ~ @CandiceC_W