Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truth is a feather, 17 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: The Taxi Queue (Paperback)
A deceptively subtle novel which refrains from plot developments and appears sometimes to be a still life of still lives. Its style a combination of the mundane (middle class preoccupations) and deeply human. The one-night stand between a married husband and a relatively care-free young man reverberates because of the past. The novel is about emotional authenticity in that Richard, the married man in his early forties, has not truly lived or experienced love since an earlier gay relationship as a young man. He briefly searches for Abe but instead follows a false lead, perhaps a metaphor for the way our lives fall out of step with our true natures. Davey does not describe her character's minds, her writing is much more carefully nuanced than that; a situation, an action, even an object worn (sun-glasses with Platonic hints) carry metaphorical undertones, suggestive of deeper meanings.

The novel broadens out to convey the lives of those people around Richard & Abe, Richard's wife Vivienne, a dutiful mother & daughter, and Abe's younger sister, Kirsty, who is experiencing, like Richard as a young man, a period of moody introspection. A recent graduate, she is between jobs, living in a 'half-way house' with her brother occupying the upper floor whilst she inhabits the lower, discovering that life is very much about 'muddling through (or hanging in there as Gloria, Kirsty's mother, has done). This short, but allusive, novel is also about communication or rather the absence & lack of it between the various characters. Like a piece of music (Abe mentions he likes Baroque), there are also recurrent similarities/echoes between characters, especially the restlessness of Richard & Kirsty. Happiness becomes a by-product of doing other things: listening to music, just enjoying life as it happens or family life.

Bubbling in the background, the novel pokes gentle fun at a prayer group and esoteric New Age religion, but with a serious point. Kirsty must work through her funk/disappointment to appreciate her boyfriend, Luka, with whom she has a distant relationship. Richard's life resumes its equilibrium too, but for the characters emotional authencity has to come from within themselves.

The characters were interesting, especially Richard & Kirsty, as well as Vivienne, Richard's wife, who senses that her husband is unhappy and becomes suspicious, though wholly ignorant of the real reason, so that ironically, Abe, whom she contacts via a New Age card (with a feather symbolising truth) is the one who is able to deflect her anxieties with an impromptu explanation.

My main criticism of the novel is that the character of Abe is sketchily drawn though, unlike Richard, he is comfortable in his sexuality but restless in terms of career. I didn't warm to Abe, perhaps he came across as too carefree and a little selfish, little realising the dramatic effect his one-night stand had had on the older man. It may be that, this being such an intelligent novel, Abe is simply a force of nature, breezing into another person's life and leaving it disoriented. Our real empathy lies with the other characters.
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