Kipling & Trix

Written by Mary Hamer
Review by Silvia Barlaam

Mary Hamer’s Kipling and Trix elegantly walks the borders between fact and fiction in her retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s story and his relationship with his sister Trix. She was also a writer, but by class rules was destined to rule a house and serve a husband instead of embracing a writing career. Framed by Kipling’s widow looking through old scrapbooks, the narrative evolves sinuously and fluently from the Kipling children’s childhood in India to England and back again, tracing those very first years of life which are often so important to determine one’s character and feelings towards the world.

The beautiful cover evokes well the book’s content, framing the siblings against faded diary-looking writing and a strong, warm sepia background, to hint at India’s hot weather and the importance of writing in both siblings’ life. The relation among the siblings grows through the years, changes, but it always stays a firm point of reference for them both, notwithstanding temporary squabbles. Hamer’s writing style keeps in the background with a simple yet effective prose, letting the story events happen in front of the readers without overexplaining or commenting. Throughout the book, references and quotations to both siblings’ work keep the narrative tied to a chronological sequence and highlight the possible connections between texts and life. A pleasant read for all, subtly tracing the siblings’ intricate relationship on the background of colonial Britishness.