A little bird called Adele pointed me in the direction of Anne LeClaire, a U.S.based writer who also has the distinction of being related to Emily Dickinson. I hold my hands up, I'd never heard of her (Anne not Emily) so I just plumped for the first and easiest book to get hold of and so The Law of Bound Hearts it was.
I say it time and again, why are US paperbacks so much nicer to have and to hold than ours here in the UK? They are soft and floppy and forgiving, the pages drape across your hands and lie flat as you hold the book, the matte covers don't go sweaty. None of this stiff, upright spine-cracking stuff with disobedient and intransigent pages that we have to battle with.
I'm sure I'll be told.
Any book that has its epigraph as a quote from a poem by Anna Akhmatova has my immediate attention.
"So much to do today:
kill memory, kill pain,
turn heart into stone,
The book has cleverly already been invested with depth for me and in fact doesn't disappoint.
It's almost a complete conglomeration of so many other themes that have unwittingly permeated my reading lately.
Reaching a crossroads in life when you can longer take your health for granted and the huge losses that mount up when Libby finds herself in renal failure and on the dialysis/ transplant trail.
Even the loss of food,
"Food was no longer about pleasure or nourishment, celebration or diversion, or even denial.Now it was about chemistry. A precise monitoring of sodium and potassium, of phosphorous and protein."
Anne LeClaire goes for the broadest of canvases painting in families, childhood, sisters, infidelity, illness, loss of trust, reconciliation and some of the thornier issues of renal transplantation and organ donation all with huge sensitivity and surprising ease.
It should make for the sort of book that has you depressively thinking "no thank you" at first glance, but not so.This was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I emerged the other end not only having read a good book but having done a lot of thinking along the way.The characters are real and believable, flawed and utterly human and I warmed to them all.
Keeping up with the trend for author interviews at the end of the book which I enjoy and also a List of Questions for Reading Groups which for some reason I don't, it was useful to find out more about this author. As a child Anne LeClaire's imagination was so enormous she spent her time not only making up stories but blurring those boundaries and "telling huge and involved lies".
That set me thinking that in a way that's what fiction is, one great big lie.You had all probably realised that light years ago but I'd never thought of it quite so intently.
It was but a small step to attempting to figure out what's the truth then? Because I often enjoy a book for its believability and thereby what I see as its truth and honesty.
That all made my head hurt because for my next trick I was going to have to figure out the meaning of life, so it was clearly time to return to earth and go and wash the kitchen floor, because, no word of a lie, it was a disgrace.
Good read, the buzz of a new find for me and so I shall be on the lookout for more Anne LeClaire.