At a deserted children’s play area he slowed and stopped, chest heaving. His head playing images of neat, well cared-for little kids filing into classrooms, their toddler brothers and sisters waiting impatiently for mothers to bring them here, he threw himself onto the flaking roundabout, kicked the ground violently hard and lay back watching the sky spin.
It’s a deeply ambitious novel with a complex plot. Although I would applaud the author for tackling serious issues of human relationships and recent European history, I felt that she was perhaps trying to pack too much in. Yet the interludes of Jay’s stories were particularly pleasurable (not something I usually like in a novel), emphasising our universal need for stories about ourselves and the world we live in.
I received my copy from the publisher, Honno Press, after being approached by the author.
The Summer of Secrets is a coming-of-age story that, for me, dwelt too long on the obsessions of the adolescents and not enough on the implications for Helen’s adult life. Published this month by Transworld, I received my proof copy via the Curtis Brown book group.
I found the women’s lives quite harrowing, so it was a bit of a shock when, in the second half of the novel, an older Elizabeth, intent on revenge, meets up with a physical incarnation of the Virgin Mary. But, amongst the humour and surrealism, we come to a deeper understanding of the mental turmoil she’s suffered since childhood and the reason for her identification with, and hatred of, the saint who failed to save her. Although I think could have stood being shorter, and the resolution seemed too easy, this is a powerful novel about women’s vulnerability(see also The Lives of Women), the difficulty of exiting a drug culture (see also The Glorious Heresies) and the risks for children of putting their faith in the Catholic Church (see also A History of Loneliness).
Do let me know if any of these books take your fancy!