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Silver Paperback – 14 Aug 2012
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I am incredibly impressed - not just by the pace and characterisation in novel, but also the historical accuracy. This is a story which carries you forward, it alternates time periods moving from the 1860s to 1911. Not chapter by chapter, but almost.
It tells the story of a young mother, Imogen, attending the dead body of her father, Avery. She finds, as everyone else has already, that the upright citizen of her world, her very loving father, and the husband her mother obviously adored, was discovered on death to have been born female.
The shock of this discovery, leads Imogen on a journey to find out who her father and (her previously deceased) mother, actually were. The story contrasts the reactions of the various characters to Avery''s death; Imogen, her 'uptight - governed by class expectations' husband; John, her father's close friend and solicitor 30 years, and a woman who Imogen thinks might have been her birth mother, and the various minor characters such as the men of the jury in the coroner's office.
The novel also tells the story of Katherine, a young woman totally at odds with the body and life that has become hers, and her incredible determination to find a way of living as the person - he knows himself to be.
I am now aged 60+, and I am a trans man (born female, I started living as a man at the age of 19). I have spent the last 40 years of my life supporting members of the UK's trans community. Being an academic i have also spent much of that time researching the law and history of our lives. Scott writes a really well researched account of the discovery of Avery's past; the historical features are brilliantly drawn. and he captures the emotions of the different characters exceptionally well. But what is exceptional, is how Scott writes 'Avery' - the 'female husband' as newspapers at the time would have referred to him, in a way which would have been fully identifiable with a trans man of that period, but which will also be instantly 'known' to any modern trans man, and the partners who love us. I know Avery's feelings as Scott describes them, it is almost as if he is writing the story of my mind, and body.
There are lots of twists to the tale, and while along the way, some pathways become obvious, but like Imogen we are left to make up our minds about the Avery we have discovered along the way, without ever having complete answers to the questions he poses for us.
A brilliant novel.
It covers the very delicate issue of sexuality and peoples attitudes within that era without making you feel you are reading 'sensationalist literature'
I always rate a book well if I find it difficult to put down at night.... well this one fits the bill perfectly. It makes you want to read onto the next page!! Thank God my Kindle has a light or my husband wouldn't have been talking to me when I found myself reading into the early hours of the morning!!
Thoroughly recommended - a refreshing change from 'chick lit' or murder and mayhem.
I'm no historian, but it feels reasonably accurate and the tone of the novel reflects the period. It almost sounds like a Conan Doyle/Holmes story in places.
If you want a love story with twists, and are prepared to challenge your own stereotypes and the way you think, then this one will make you think as well as being a well told story.
A copy of this book was provided for this review. However, the opinions are all my own.