Posted on 20th October 2010

By James Smith

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Grace Williams Says It Loud

Emma Henderson

There are several things you should know about Grace Williams: as a young girl she was struck down by polio; she can only speak in two-syllable sentences; she is mocked for being a ‘mental defective’; and she now lives in the Briar Mental Home, where she has discovered love – and sex – with Daniel, an epileptic who has no arms but can type with his feet.

Grace might not be able to communicate much with the outside world, but Henderson has given her a lucid internal voice to tell us what she thinks about her life and the way she is treated. Ray Robinson did something like this for epilepsy in Electricity, as did Clare Allan for institutionalised mental illness in Poppy Shakespeare, but their stories were told from a narrator’s point of view. By using the first person, Henderson releases Grace from the imprisonment of her body to show us the living, breathing, vibrant soul inside.



Elizabeth Buchan

22nd October 2010 at 08:09

A thrilling debut by a writer who will go on to greater things. Emma Henderson is someone to watch

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