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Burning Out Kindle Edition
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Katherine May's first novel flows with an intensity and sense of drama that keeps one's attention and interest to the very end. Violet has a strange telepathic relationship with a doppelgänger several years younger than herself who appears to be about to make the same mistakes in her life as Violet feels she has made in hers. From this intriguing start Katherine weaves a dreamlike and multi layered narrative that explores many areas of the modern human condition. I would mention just two as follows. Her satire of the slavery of corporate existence is penetrating and timely given the cracks that are now appearing in its structure and her analysis of its effects on its work serfs stands comparison with 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists'. Her exploration of identity and consciousness is thought provoking without being didactic and suggests much promise for future work.
But most exciting of all is her ability to create a compelling page turning story in masterly prose. One soon has a desperate need to find out how Violet resolves the problems in her and her alter ego's lives. For a first novel her style is already very assured and one hears an original voice being given its first extended outing.
If there is one area that I feel is calling for development in Katharine's work it would be to see her weave together the relationships of several complex and differing characters who affect one another over time rather than just one- albeit in two bodies. But really all I am saying is that I can't wait to read her next book!
Violet absents herself from work and moves into a hotel in Stonehithe, bent on saving this younger girl from ending up as she is now. The landlady, Antonia, takes a keen interest in Violet: the reason for this becomes clear late in the book ( I won't give it away!)
This is a kind of ghost story with elements of magic-realism, suggesting how lives can be linked and how our past haunts us. The evocation of a seaside town out of season worked particularly well, and the character of Violet is well-drawn and believable. I particularly enjoyed the sections about the Dansette record player! However, I wasn't sure about the chapters in the voice of the younger character - a bit too explanatory at times- and I am not convinced how Violet's intervention could caused her to end up as she does.
A great first novel; I look forward to the next.
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