Thursday, 29 November 2012

‘A Day in a Double’s Life’ by Sangu Mandana

The Lost Girl is a book about love, but also about death and how difficult it is for us to let go of the ones we’ve lost. The narrator, Eva, is an echo. A replacement. She’s not supposed to have any interests, attachments or opinions of her own. She’s designed to be exactly like her original, Amarra, and to be able to replace her if anything were to happen to her. Which means she spends her days learning about Amarra’s life instead of getting to live her own.
For me, writing about Eva’s life was difficult and fascinating. I had to wrap my head around a lot of messy things. How do you exist when you’re just an echo of somebody else? And that word, ‘echo’, is pretty significant. Because Eva’s life is really a week behind Amarra’s. Amarra spends a week as normal, then relays what she’s done back to Eva’s guardians at the end of that week, and Eva uses that information as a template for the next week. And on, and on, and on it goes.

Here’s a little peek into what that’s like. This is a day in Eva’s life.

7am
Eva wakes up. It’s probably cold. She checks a list and picks out the same clothes Amarra wore on this day last week. She dresses. She goes out into the kitchen and helps her caretaker, Mina Ma, make breakfast. Eva’s not hungry, but Amarra ate pancakes with maple syrup so Eva has to eat pancakes with maple syrup. But it’s not so bad; Eva likes pancakes. It’s far better than the days Amarra has fried eggs. Eva despises fried eggs.

9am
Erik, one of her guardians, arrives for the day’s lessons. First they check the photo album, where there are photos of everyone Amarra knows or is close to. There’s no one new to study, so they move on. They listen to a disc with a recording of Amarra’s voice, so that Eva can track any changes in accent or vocabulary, and then they read through Amarra’s journal to remind themselves of what she did last week. Eva has to know every detail: what Amarra’s friends said, if there was any news, what happened at school, what her younger brother and sister have been doing. It’s a lot to remember, but Eva has a good memory.

10.30am
They take a break. Erik has a cup of tea with Mina Ma in the kitchen. Eva goes out into the back garden and refills the bird-feeder.

11am
Erik takes on the role of Amarra’s teachers so that Eva can study what Amarra studied at school last week. She uses all the same textbooks and materials, studies the same subjects, and has to complete exactly the same assignments. Today it’s English lit, history, physics and math. She hands in an essay she finished last night.

They stop for lunch. Amarra had ham and cheese sandwiches, so Eva has the same. Then Mina Ma spends half an hour teaching Eva how to cook rice properly. Amarra knows this already. When they’re done, Eva goes back to studying with Erik.

3pm
Another break. Ophelia, one of Eva’s other guardians, turns up. She gives Eva one of her weekly examinations to make sure she’s healthy and that her height, weight and growth match Amarra’s.

4pm
Eva goes back to finish ‘school’ with Erik. Mina Ma and Ophelia sit in a different room, talking about Eva’s progress, Amarra’s life and about the Weavers, Eva’s powerful creators.

6pm
Eva has some time to herself. She’s supposed to use it to read the books Amarra’s been reading, watching the same movies and TV that Amarra’s watched, and generally catching up on anything she may have fallen behind on, but instead she retreats to her room and makes birds out of candlewax.

7pm
Dinner. Erik and Ophelia have stayed to eat, and there’s nothing more to learn or study, so for a little while Eva talks and laughs with them and feels like herself. After dinner, she helps clear up and then goes back to her room to do some of the homework Amarra did last week. She spends about an hour or so on homework. Then she finishes a book she loves. She’s not allowed to do this, because Amarra didn’t like the book and stopped halfway through, but no one stops her.

11pm
She goes to bed. But she doesn’t sleep for a long while.

It’s a strange kind of life to live, isn’t it? As you can probably imagine, it suffocates Eva and she’s not the kind to go quietly. She fights it all the way. And I think you can see that fight even here, on an ordinary day, before Eva chooses to become truly defiant. So there you have it. This is Eva’s tiny, isolated world.

And then everything goes wonky.

Many Thanks to author Sangu Mandana for this awesome and heart melting guest post for my blog. The Lost Girl is one of my most favorite book of this year. Add The Lost Girl to your Goodreads Shelf

About The Author : Sangu Mandanna was four years old when she was chased by an elephant and wrote her first story about it and decided that this was what she wanted to do with her life. Seventeen years later, she read Frankenstein. It sent her into a writing frenzy that became THE LOST GIRL, a novel about death and love and the tie that binds the two together. Sangu now lives in England with her husband and son. Find her online at www.sangumandanna.com

3 comments:

  1. I love this guest post. I love the peek into Eva's life. But i feel like it is so suffocating. to do everything just the SAME way, someone else does! That's horrible. But I am definitely going to read this, and i think I won it in a giveaway, so I can't wait for it to reach me on my doorstep.
    LOVED the guest post, Soumi and Sangu!
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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