Sunshine Soup – Nourishing The Global Soul
By Jo Parfitt
Summertime Publishing – 10.00 €
Sunshine Soup – Nourishing the Global Soul could so very easily be construed as being nothing other than a dissertation on chick-lit. The does and don’ts – a sort of chick-lit, checklist as it were. But upon closer, perhaps subliminal inspection, there’s so much more going on.
From a behavioural and psychological perspective, authoress Jo Parfitt, herein traverses an array of territory that a (so called) serious writer such as Jeanette Winterson is all too keen to carp on about; yet very rarely home in on. It is after all, far easier to skirt around such contentious issues as love and marriage by way of colourful complaint and sociological smokescreen. The sort of smokescreen that veers betwixt a belief that all men are either of the Neanderthal, white-van-man variety (‘’Look, there’s Jim! Said Rick, waving towards a largish man with a shaved head, wearing a pink open-necked shirt and cream shorts that reached his calves’’), or way too caught up in a career that leaves very little time or room for the missus (‘’money was important to Bill’’).
That’s where this book is different. There is no smokescreen.
While its 364 pages are indeed about love and marriage, a subject which much to the chagrin of Frank Sinatra, doesn’t always ‘’go together like a horse and carriage;’’ the book unrelentingly addresses a number of love and marriage’s fundamental issues such as having children and building a home together; while simultaneously retaining trust, responsibility, self-respect and of course, attraction. A partial manifestation of the latter, being Parfitt’s brave assertion of a pair of ‘’un-toned thighs that resembled cold porridge.’’ The owner of whom is the book’s protagonist, Maya, who already at page 21, is way ‘’too nervous to take a step towards the edge of her comfort zone.’’
Sunshine Soup focuses on the lives of two woman, Maya and Barb, within a larger group of women. All of who live in the sun-drenched, financial hubris that is Dubai. All of who in some form or another, bow down to the inevitable mantra of longing, loneliness and severe loss of identity.
There is after all, only so much tennis and diversion one can partake in.
Then again, it’s all about choice. One either stays put and plays safe, or one ventures further field and takes risks: ‘’That’s the best part. They’re going to train me up in an area that’s needed the world over. Imagine that, Barb! We could get to Europe. Next time the fence needs painting, I’ll be able to pay some other guy to do it for us! How about that? […]. To him, a career meant money. To her, it meant doing something useful, making a difference. Bill had not thought to ask her how she felt about giving up her career. She swallowed down the unspoken words, not realising back then that this was to become quite a talent.’’
In and of themselves, the above words alone, promote an undercurrent of looming, potential catastrophe; which is a mere tip of the book’s sociological iceberg.
Ye grass is after all, always somewhat greener on ye other side.
With panache and poise, Sunshine Soup candidly addresses what it’s really like to live the life of an expatriate (and it comes replete with a number of recipes at the back of the book, that are mentioned throughout).