Saturday, June 09, 2007

In Search Of Adam...

Caroline Smailes has written a novel. I would be surprised if anyone who reads this blog has not come across Caroline's amazing story, of how her unassuming blog launched her beautiful first novel, but in case you haven't you can catch up with her story here.

I read her novel this week. I was blown away. With the story of Jude - a motherless, abused child on a quest to discover her roots - Caroline has produced the most moving piece of fiction I have read in a long time. The subject matter is not for the faint-hearted. Childhood sexual abuse, post-natal depression, self-harm and suicide are not topics that raise one's spirits. The prose, however, will fill your heart with sheer pleasure. Soak up the words. Each one is carefully chosen.

Caroline has beautifully crafted form and style to shape the content. The ‘what’ is presented simply. The ‘how’ is the stunning beauty of the book. The way we meet the book is precisely the way we meet a broken child. With patience, with work, with tolerance. By hearing the voice that lay underneath the words, chilling as those words are.

Jude doesn’t let you get close to her easily. Of course she doesn’t. That is how it is when you are a child abused. She tells you her story in stark, brutal sentences and you have to read between her words to find out who she is. But once you are alongside her, she slowly begins to reveal herself. You have to work hard. That is how it is for children like Jude.

Books can often make me cry. I have read Love In The Time Of Cholera umpteen times and I cry every single time. In Search Of Adam made me cry. I began to weep not at Jude’s story, but the beautiful way in which Caroline allows me to know it. I began to weep at the beauty of the voices within; at the emotion that is held within the words. I had to work to attune to Jude, but once you are attuned Caroline draws you in until you are deeply involved in Jude's reality. This is precisely how I would ‘do therapy’ with Jude. Caroline has the consummate skill of an experienced writer to recreate this process in fiction form.

Caroline is a linguist. She captures Jude's voice beautifully, and through Jude we come to know the world of the grown-ups. As Jude grows, the voices begin to layer and layer until the book is dense with texture and meaning. Her use of language and poetry is exquisite. I was reminded of some of the Anglo-Indian writers: Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy. Quite some going for a first time novelist.


Caroline will be reading from her novel at Waterstone's in Deansgate, Manchester, on Thursday 14 June at 7pm. Don't miss it. I suspect it's the start of something big.


14 comments:

Stray said...

*sigh* yes. yes yes. that's such a tuned in review Ms M - says so much I didn't realise I thought until I read your words here ...

I think I might go read it again now ...

Sx

trousers said...

Its amazing how ISoA has had an unequivocally positive response. Actually that's rubbish. Its not amazing, presumably its a reflection of the quality of the book.

I had a big (drunken) conversation with a close friend of mine about it last night, I'm looking forward to reading it because I haven't read any fiction for quite some time.

Your review is good, thoughtful and level and I think it might serve as a good way into ISoA when I go out and buy it.

JJ said...

That's exactly it, Ms M. I am not reading in one sitting (partly because I can't at the moment) but partly because I choose to savour it; to enjoy the poetry of it. It really is beautifully written.

Jude said...

That's a lovely review Ms M, and exactly what I thought of ISoA too. It is a novel that will stay with me for a very long time. And that isn't at all because Caroline wrote it.

Rachel said...

Looking forward to reading it.

By the way, the stalker has been caught so I am asking bloggers to take the buttons down, and passing on my thanks to all who helped.

She is remanded in jail awaiting psychiatric reports pre sentencing

Reading the Signs said...

hey, Ms M, that was in my email too.

I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Stray - thanks hon.

Hi there black trousers,I am intrigued about the drunken conversation about ISoA. I do hope you enjoy it. Shame you can't make it to Manchester though....

Hey jj, yes, isn't it? Who would've thought a book about child abuse could be so poetic?

Hi Jude, it is hard to separate it out from Caroline the person, isn't it? Had I not liked the book, however, I would've just kept quiet. I really do think she has pulled off something quite special here.

Hey Rachel, glad she is in custody. And congratulations on your recent marriage x

Hi Signs, an email? Ooh, how exciting. I hope you enjoy ISoA as much as I did.

trousers said...

Back in blue, MsM. My friend's ears pricked up when I mentioned that one of my blogging friends was just about to have a novel published. We talked about (what I know of) the subject matter and the handling of it, which led onto a big discussion about how books treat "difficult" subjects.

We'd had a lot to drink though so by the end of the conversation we were quite addled.

Yes I'm very disappointed at not coming along on Thursday, and I know I'm missing out in a big way.

Dammit!

hesitant scribe said...

Just re-reading your review. You have captured it exactly, and I am only up to chapter 3 - drinking in sections between marking and planning. I love the way the story is unfolding, so very simply and beautifully.

It was nice to meet you at the launch, and I'd just like to apologise here and now for being the dimwit who asked you who you were no less than 5 times! And I wasn't even drunk! Must have been the lighting! Oooops!

dovegreyreader said...

I'm loving reading others thoughts on this book so thanks for all the links. I still have the book sitting on my desk and I'm still having ideas about it weeks after first reading and yes I also think it is the start of something big.

dovegreyreader said...

Oops no I have to thank Rachel for the links, she directed me here!

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey Hestitant Scribe, it was a pleasure to meet you. I think it was only the four times, by the way! There were so many people there I couldn't remember who I had met by the end of the night. And of course, we all had two lots of names to remember - real name and blog name. How bloody weird was that? Good to meet you though and thanks for calling in x

Hey Dovegreyreader, yes Rachel to thank for all the links, and Caroline has them in her sidebar aswell. Thanks for dropping by anyway x

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