I bought this book randomly in a bookshop and I am so very glad I did. It is really hard to summarise the plot, but it emcompasses The Tempest, earthquakes, hypnotism, London, acting, jealousy, love and Dorothy Squires. Eaves pulls off the hard task of many interleaved story lines, and time scales, with an unusual twist. It is often also exceedlingly funny. I have been forcing it onto family and friends, and everyone has enjoyed it (well, the two who have read it so far). Now I need to get my copy back so I can read it again.
I have to say that I might not have given this book the read it deserves. I found it incredibly dense with metaphor and simile - and its style is elliptical, almost too casual for the freight carried by the words. I feel this book deserved a slower, more attentive read, but much of it, for me, in my usual reading style (fast) seemed to promise much then pass me by. My feeling of regret is also tinged with impatience because clarity is what I expect, but it has to be said that Will Eaves is a writer with a lot to say and that he, himself, I think, rather than me, is to blame for any inattention, as he throws it all down with rather too much negligence.
This book concerns a series of theatrical people, or TV actors, or agents, plus the people they live with, grew up with, interact with. A large cast of characters is given not much room to manoeuvre. Two of them stand out: Alice, a plump, highly intelligent actor, with a problem sister, also an actor; and Leslie, a bit of a soak who inadvertently gives Alice her first acting success. As with his first book, Eaves enlivens his characters with authentic humanity, but there might be slightly too many of them in this book to make the magic work.
His wit is sharp and clever, his depth of writing means that he is never merely funny. Tragedy underpins humour just as it does in real life; that is fatally, or sometimes peripherally, but always cuttingly. The book is ambitious and has a delicious twist in the tale. I am immensely admiring of Eaves' writing, but I think, to do him justice, I will have to read this book again some time: but slowly.
This is Will Eaves second novel. And very good it is too. It satisfies on many levels. The writing is crisp and lively. He has a great eye for telling detail as well as a flair for narrative complexity. Hard to condense what it's about. My reading of it was that it was a study in the deceptions which people create about themselves and their place in the world - sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Set in a brilliantly described theatrical millieu, Eaves can be screamingly funny about the vanities and vagaries of luvviedom. He can also be poignant and touching about human frailty. And he has a forensic eye for relationships and why they succeed or fail. He certainly knows how to write a good story. This one is multi-faceted and keeps you guessing until the very end. If I have a criticism it is that in weaving together a number of narratives he has set himself a real challenge in pulling them all together in a completely satisfying way. That said, the authors affection for late Shakespearean plays (and those who try to bring them to life on stage) is abundant and the writing is at once economic, elegant and lively. Above all it is very satisfying to read. Can't wait for the next one.