Odd but how often it happens to me.
I pick up two books completely at random, in succession and find huge similarities in content and themes and am constantly amazed at the reach of the long arm of coincidence.
This week Seizure by Erica Wagner and The Last Good Man by Patience Swift.
This latter from Independent publisher Beautiful Books and the books are exactly that.
Nicely presented editions with silk ribbon markers (I'm easily won), good grade paper and, unusual these days, the book cover printed under the dust jacket.
It all comes at a price though and I have to be honest and declare that £14.99 would be out of my buying league for a hardback book of 150 pages. Perhaps pricing these days takes into account eventual discounting? I don't know.
Both books about dead mothers, cottages by the sea, ethereal single men living in them and women who have to visit and make big discoveries about themselves (and the single men)
The Last Good Man by the enigmatic Patience Swift (the pseudonym of an author who lives in Cornwall) redolent of that familiar trope of the isolated older man whose life is radically altered by the arrival of a child out of the blue.Heidi and Silas Marner come immediately to mind as classics of the genre and we tend to view those books in all innocence.Now we have been trained to be find such a situation very suspect and Patience Swift follows this through to its 21st century conclusion.
Sam's equilibrium held in place by a self-imposed isolation in which he finds it easier not to relate to people, avoiding eye contact, conversation and any social interaction. This self-imposed autism suddenly shattered by the discovery of a little girl washed up on the beach, alive and well and apparently from nowhere.
Initially I felt this was a book that had ultimately disappointed, I just didn't want the ending I was given, but on reflection I think it's a canny mix of myth, fable and reality and I have cast my mind back to it frequently since I finished it and been able to see hidden depths.
Seizure by Erica Wagner "charged prose pulses with intensity that will leave the reader breathless" thankfully didn't quite leave me needing oxygen.
This is a complex and densely packed novel with several strands all weaving in together to give us the lives of Janet and Tom. Initially two strangers who both hold indentical keys to a cottage which Tom has lived in since childhood and Janet has just inherited from her mother.
Janet prone to what I can only assume to be a form of petit-mal epilepsy just to complicate things further.
More of the warp and weft of myth and fable alternating with reality and eventually I found myself just clinging onto the odd normality of the reality bits to stay afloat.
But then even the reality bits were a bit surreal.
Seizure demanded a high level of concentration and some guile to fill in the gaps and silences and yet try as I might I just couldn't get a grip on this one at all.My mind kept wandering off anywhere but on that page, I think the prose may have been pulsing just a bit too intensely for me and it's plain I have not done it justice at all.
Just for today you'd better all read it for yourselves and make your own minds up, which is called sitting on the fence in any other language.
This often happens to me with Booker list books, so now I'm wondering...might it? Could it?