Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Annabel Doré: The Great North Road

Here’s a really unusual novel by a new writer who manages to be entirely fresh and quirky, and simultaneously to put me in mind of Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

Set around Newcastle in the 1950s, the story gallops along at breakneck pace, following the misfortunes of two young mothers who abandon their newborn baby girls in the hospital and then go on the run together. In the ensuing months of trauma, teenage mum Sylvia starts to develop schizophrenia, while her counterpart Greta attempts murder and is forced to take on a new identity to escape her crime. To complicate matters, the babies have lost their name tags and charts, and no one knows which is which. So when the women eventually return to try to claim their daughters, chaos ensues, and all manner of people have their lives turned upside-down. Drop a brick into still water and the ripples go on, and on, and on.

It’s hard to categorize The Great North Road – family saga? Gothic drama? Black comedy? Surreal romp? The novel is all of these, and more. Above all, it’s a fast, busy and hugely enjoyable read. Annabel Doré is going straight onto my Favourite Authors list.

Macmillan New Writing  2008  paperback  688 pp.  ISBN: 9780230528895 

About katelong

UK novelist, watcher of voles.

8 comments on “Annabel Doré: The Great North Road

  1. Nik
    September 26, 2008

    That sounds really interesting. I’ll be putting that on my list.

    Nik

  2. Jackie
    September 27, 2008

    What an unusual book this must be. But I’m curious to see how it turns out, so I’m guessing I’ll be looking for it at the library. Is the author related to Gustave Dore, the illustrator, I wonder?
    The collage on the cover seems to echo the hodgepodge of events described in the book. Thanks Ms. Long, for your review.

  3. Barb
    September 28, 2008

    Hello, I landed here via the Black Box and my goodness! You have a lot of reading for me to do!
    You review books, I see, how facinating! Where do you find time to read and review AND blog too?

  4. Moira
    September 28, 2008

    We’re all accomplished multi-taskers, Barb.

    We’re also probably all certifiable.

    Welcome. :mrgreen:

  5. Leena
    September 28, 2008

    And it helps there are so many of us 😉

    Kate, I love the sound of the book. In fact, it somehow reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield… except that it sounds better. (I found Setterfield’s book quite disappointing.) This one goes straight to my to-be-read list – thanks for the review!

  6. Kate Long
    September 28, 2008

    I wouldn’t say it’s like ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ at all. The style of that’s quite measured and controlled, whereas the writing in ‘The Great North Road’ is all fizzy and chaotic (in a good way). It really made me think of the way I felt when I first sat down with ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ and read: “I exist!”

  7. RosyB
    September 29, 2008

    Thanks for the recommendation, Kate – and lovely to see you here! 🙂

    Fizzy and chaotic sounds a very winning combination i must say. As does this:

    “Gothic drama? Black comedy? Surreal romp? The novel is all of these, and more.”

    I think i might have to give this a go.

  8. Kate Long
    September 29, 2008

    I think you’ll love it!

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This entry was posted on September 26, 2008 by in Fiction: general.

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Acknowledgment

  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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