Golden Submarine begins with a nostalgia-inducing, and intriguingly short, note from the last moments of a world now gone. You can almost sense the darkness fade away into memory, destined to lurk in the background and wait for its inevitable retrieval. But before the little spark can sink in, we are greeted by a group of youngsters in contemporary time - in a distant future “after the great flood” - and in the midst of a hunt for treasures that lost land holds.
The tone hangs upon suspicion the very existence of a flooded Atlantis v2.0. In doing so, it wonderfully reminds us how naive we must sound every time we put to doubt the stories of old and pass them off as mere myths and legends just because we did not see it happen, as if the world began only when we were born.
So Golden Submarine must then be a treasure hunt, an adventure tale, right? Wrong. That it is, but only in principle. Francene & Edith bear no pretence about how they want this story told and what they wish for us to focus on. To them, the otherwise supremely exciting and tried-and-tested formula of a historic mission, a la the destruction of rings or reforging of kingdoms, is a mere bystander - a backdrop to bring forth what is truly important - the human condition. Hardly ever are tales of adventure told with such abandon for that journey itself, in the face of subtle emotions. So the more commonplace focus on lost treasure, stormy seas and bravado, as has been seen over the long years of fictional writing, give way to descriptive expressions of love, sexuality and a very contemporary set of reactions as one may expect from a bunch of youngsters.
There’s a strong undertone of simile throughout the narration. That appears to be the authors’ style. They accept and give due credit to the reality that plays itself out in our minds - that whimsical place of thoughts and feelings where we inevitable reside at all times even in the most dreadful or demanding situations. So no, this is not an elaborate costume-draped archaic or futuristic agenda for the greater good. This is a very contemporary and real retention of playful and often conflicting approach to life as the protagonists go about their search.
There are secret boy fantasies, a woman’s urge to be the dominant beauty, fickle attempts at revenge, innocuous bouts of jealousy, the resultant inevitable strategies of love, loud moans of sexual pleasure, and of course, scheming betrayal among others - all en route to the by-now trivial destination of a lost land and its precious jewelery. But then, how could the prize of so much effort possibly become trivial when it stands as the core incentive for all? So in come the behemoths of destiny, a mysteriously all-knowing woman, connections with history and the responsibility of Britland, all leading us eventually to that tragic note. That amalgamation, is the beauty of Ms. Stanley’s Golden Submarine.
Note: I received a free review copy for a fair and honest assessment.