Hood and Coffee

“You’ve nothing to lose, have you?” – Hood

Hood by Emma Donoghue is about love and loss, age old tropes in literature. However, Donoghue provides a fresh approach through beautifully wrought prose. Set in Dublin in the early nineties, Hood is concerned with a week in the life of a thirty-year-old lesbian called Pen. She has just lost Cara, her “lover” of thirteen years, in a car crash.

The book is organised into seven sections, each concerned with a different day of the week. Cara’s funeral takes places in the middle of the narrative, the rest of the novel is composed of Pen’s everyday activities, dealing with her loss and the taboo surrounding her homosexuality. However, what is most striking about Hood, in my eyes, is the flashbacks Pen experiences of her time with Cara. They capture a relationship that is no longer two-sided, it has become frozen in memory.

Hood is about human relationships, their intricacies and imperfections. The traits that are strange or irritating are what make a person fascinating. They are what provoke the most pain when that person passes before their time. I appreciated Hood’s focus on the physical within partnerships. Some of the scenes are intensely graphic, but I believe this makes the book all the more of a tour de force.

I drank a lot of coffee while reading Hood. Tiredness seems to set in when there is a shift in the seasons. The Hansel and Gretel Bakery near Dublin’s Merrion Square certainly brew a decent cup and it is always searing hot. Ideal on a cool morning with many books to read.

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