The Legg family are a nightmare, and it is only that good if you are part of it. Domestic violence, heavy drinking, junk food and cigarettes are the staples of everyday life and an unholy interest in eggs only adds a surreal twist to the misery Gregg Legg has to put up with. He has always been bullied and the bullying seems as though it will continue throughout his life, being only marginally better since he decided to marry Peggy Legg, who doesn’t let anyone bully her husband except herself. But now there is their son to think about and Gregg doesn’t want history to repeat itself. “Wooden Womb Man” is a surreal, darkly hilarious and often terrifying novel, which digs into the heart of an ASBO community and finds it to be as healthy as the ash from a packet of Kensitas Club. Set in Irvine, Elizabeth O’Neill writes in dialect and describes the horror of domestic abuse and its effects from a new and refreshing perspective, the darkness of the story leavened with some of the worst puns ever set in print.
I was so drawn into the plight of the battered husband, Gregg, and how he tried to cover up his shame at this treatment from his wife that I could not put this book down. His wife, Peggy, was an evil woman, but at the same time, I felt she deserved some sympathy over the fact that she’d never received help for her mood swings, which were caused by PMT and later by early menopause. When they have a child together there are some truly awful moments that caused me to gasp out loud with shock and dismay. The title is very clever, referring to the shed that Gregg takes refuge in, but the ending, which takes part in his shed, is bittersweet and extremely shocking. In all, this tale is gritty, brutal and violent, but also poignant and heartbreaking.
The novel is written in Scottish dialect, and O’Neill has tackled the subject of domestic violence in a refreshingly new style. She has even managed to inject moments of humour, which help to alleviate the horrors that her story tells.
Many thanks to Anthony at www.bluechrome.co.uk for sending me this amazing book.