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.
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