Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
An honest deal with the demons
on 6 October 2000
With her latest novel ALKennedy moves into exploring the emotional silences we maintain that prevent so many relationships from fulfilling their potential.
Kennedy carefully weaves a number of separate short stories , which stand alone in the novel as well as acting as sequential chapters. Each "story" deals with the continuing theme of love denied or lost but from a different point of view.
The main protagonist, Nathan Staples, is an astonishingly painful portrayal of a middle-aged father who has made the decision to deny his love for his daughter in favour of maintaining the illusion of approval from his ex-wife for his actions. It is a decision ladened with an appalling emotional price.
In addition to the traditional triangular tangle between mother (who is largely absent in the writing) father and daughter, is a not so subtle underscoring of the price of becoming a writer, which the father is, and the daughter hopes to become. At times the plot is overstrained as father and daughter share increasing intimacy both through work and friendship. Credulity is stretched as we wonder how the daughter cannot know it is her own father she is dealing with. And yet how many secrets do each of us carry around successfully to survive?
Kennedy draws heavily on her own experiences to condemn the current publishing culture which burns out talent and crucifies the publishers themselves. Her bitterest comments are reserved for the seeming lottery which calls itself the authors prizes.
The writing is the typical mix of ALK's intelligent ambiguity: robust,rude,sensitive,insightful, sentimental and searing. She can do it all and still walk away with a unique voice that catches our unspoken fears in a way that few authors can.
This is easily her most powerful work to date and should be read by anyone who has lost a child through marriage, or has lost a loved one. The insights into the pain involved are both helpful and terrifyingly accurate.