Like Marina Lewycka’s two earlier novels, We Are All Made of Glue is a big-hearted confection of the comic and the poignant; perfect to read in bed when recovering from swine flu in the depths of a recession. Its principal setting is Canaan House in Highbury (huge, tumbledown, Victorian, a property developer’s dream), where lives a feisty, moth-eaten Jewish émigrée called Naomi Shapiro and a bag of incontinent cats. Narrator Georgie Sinclair, freelance writer for online magazine Adhesives in the Modern World, first meets this exotic neighbour rummaging in the skip in which she dumped errant husband Rip’s possessions. Naomi invites her to dinner, and the ensuing scene, in which Georgie tries not to gag on fish past its sell-by date whilst the old woman lectures her about love, is a masterly piece of burlesque. Naomi, gloriously larger than life, dominates the novel: outspoken and flirtatious, she broods over stories of tragedy and passion that are gradually revealed to Georgie.
Georgie passes humdrum days researching articles about glue, worrying over sixteen-year-old Ben as he surfs born-again websites, and exercising her rage about Rip by penning a corny romance about revenge. Meanwhile, Naomi slips on ice, winds up in hospital and loudly resists attempts to put her in a