6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful, dark, insightful, funny and fabulous read!,
This review is from: The Old Romantic (Paperback)
I finished this book in a day and a half, something I haven't done in a long time. I was riveted by the characters who are utterly authentic, deep and rich and flawed with the most exquisite weaknesses. The pace of this story is so fast and the events so credible that you find yourself nodding off in the middle of the night having read way past bedtime, and they appear in your dreams leading you along some East Sussex trail, yammering all the way, the clip of their recorded speech so accurate and compelling as to have you tittering in your sleep. But this is no lightweight journey. The book's themes are universal and important, the dissection of our continuing imprisonment in the whole notion of class and the broad theatre of death struck ready chords with me and caused me to think past the novel, forcing me to examine my own family and relationships.
Louise Dean is a visual writer. The beauty of her characters lies in the combination of authentic regional voices and the detail of her descriptions with the little things, as is always the case, offering the clues that permit us to know them gradually. I shall never forget the morbidly-obessed Ken seated in a country restaurant in his raincoat, mounting his version of a born-again Christian interrogation of his son's potential in-laws over the 'tamada soup'. Or the delicious Pearl with her driveway boasting a forest decorated with decaying plastic dolls scrutinizing visitors to her cottage before they get to meet her disturbed German Shepherd guard dog. The circumstances might be sometimes comedy-fest eccentric but the players are subtle, believable and endearing.
Thinking back I start to smile as I recall some of the darker and more touching passages and realise they are the richer because they are familiar. I suspect that within all our families there are corners of gloom where ancient relatives have festered and where we have looked away fearing an encounter that might reveal more than just bad parenting. I don't want to suggest for a moment that this inspired novel offers anything so dark it frightens but there are certainly moments of trepidation and disquietude. Happily they are quickly dissolved in a brew so refreshing and witty that you will finish wanting more.