'The Amazingly Astonishing Story' is Lucy Gannon’s memoir of her first seventeen years. The daughter of a soldier, she lived a peripatetic early life but settled in the north west. Here, a young child, she suffered the death of her mother and was cared for by an aunt. Escape beckoned when her father remarried and the family moved south, but Lucy and her two elder brothers soon find out that they have swapped one difficult situation for another. The boys flee by joining the armed forces and Lucy is left to deal with a stepmother who mostly ignores her in an attempt to live her own life with Lucy’s father.
Lucy’s escape is school, where her abysmal grasp of maths is mitigated by a flair for writing. Despite her talent, and her love of school, she leaves at sixteen for the Women’s Royal Army Corps, unable to escape the low expectations of her family.
Vividly told, 'The Amazingly Astonishing Story' is a classic story of a working-class girl growing up in the fifties and early sixties, where what might be possible and what actually is seem incompatible. A strict Catholic upbringing, sexual abuse, a father torn between his daughter and his new wife, a precocious and imaginative young girl, mean that Lucy Gannon really does have an amazing story (including a chance meeting with the young Beatles in the school grounds) as she breaks boundaries and strives for the freedom to be herself.
Reminiscent of Jeanette Winterson’s 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit' Gannon’s memoir is an assured story of her childhood and of a slice of Britain in the 50s and 60s.