Kate Rigby's Break Point did not, actually, immediately grab me, but from the second or third page when I had begun to decipher the quirky UK voice and the beginnings of the plot, I was snagged and rode the smooth narration along for the reminder of the novella.
Inside, Robina is a thirty or forty-something caregiver at Carewise, and she takes on an elderly woman living not far from her apartment. Gwen is a tough one, demanding, and all Robina wants to do is catch every single play during this year's Wimbledon. She quickly moves into Gwen's house, upstairs, and just as quickly the relationship with her client sours as soon as it's evident that Robina wants to work her appointed hours and no more, and that she's all about the tennis.
There are lots of things to like about this book, and the most outstanding two were the dialogue and the narrative voice. Robina shows off her upbringing, her politics, and her past with excellent slang and colloquialisms that are quintessentially British, and which bring an otherwise normal, everyday situation to vivid, interesting life. As well, the dialogue was lifelike, silky smooth, awkward (but always intentionally so), which really gave the characters life and struck tension beautifully. The reader is often left to wonder what sort of response this dialogue ought to provoke from the various speakers, which reminded me of the dialogue of Hemingway. I'm heartened when the author thinks enough of the reader's intelligence not to lay every detail out straight. There's space between the lines, and I was happy to fill it with my own conclusions.
In addition readers gain the benefits of a steady pace, neither too fast or wallowing-in-details slow, an impressive array of memorable characters, including a Holden Caulfield's girlfriend type character, and a winning extended metaphor with tennis.
I mentioned the first page because I'm not British, and I was utterly and hopelessly lost by the way the narrative threw me in, right in the midst of everything in Bobbie's life: her present and her past are both there, a sort of tsunami that had me drowning at first.
Once I picked up on what was going on though, the remainder of the book was nearly flawless. Ultimately the book speaks about the drudgery of day in, day out existence and how it can crush the most closely held beliefs and impassioned ideals, and it's done without any rancid bitterness or soppy nostalgia. Break Point walks the line between those, and this line judge cannot find fault with it.
Five enthusiastic stars.