Isamay, a young academic, was named after her two grandmothers, Isa and May. These grannies, whose relationship seethes with unspoken rivalry, are the Colonel’s Lady and Judy O’Grady: posh Isa and working-class May, whose love for their only granddaughter makes them unwilling sisters under the skin. Isamay has grown up as both a prize and a weapon in their invisible game.
This is fantastic territory for Forster, who has written so brilliantly about female relationships. She has explored the experience of motherhood, of mothering a wayward daughter, of being a wayward daughter, and of becoming a grandmother. Now, in Isa & May, she has taken the point of view