Posts Tagged ‘Caroline Smailes’

The Finding of Martha Lost – Caroline Wallace

Posted in Books about Books, Literary Prizes on March 10th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

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Publication Date – 10th March 2016

Publisher – Doubleday

The Finding of Martha Lost is a glorious, glittering kaleidoscope of a novel with vivid, magical characters popping into view with each turn of the page. In this tale of objects, feelings and relationships lost and found, there is the most beautiful backdrop of characters who wouldn’t look out of place in the Commedia dell’Arte with Martha Lost making an excellent Columbine/Pierrette or perhaps, in more modern times a scatty Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

So, where is the exotic setting for all this magical mayhem – why, Lime Street Station, Liverpool of course! Under the grime and the soot, there’s a world of humour and whimsy but not without its undercurrent of sadness. Martha’s Mother with a most definite capital M, ensures that Martha remains tied to the station, like the Liver Birds chained to the Royal Liver Building.

Caroline Wallace’s novel is a veritable smorgasbord with lots to delight the reader – The Beatles, a Roman Soldier on the 17.37 from Chester, lemon drizzle cake, the Heatwave of 1976 and last but not least Kevin Keegan who may have tugged on my heartstrings in the mid 70s with his curly locks…

I like to conclude reviews by stating similarities between the book in question and others but Caroline Wallace’s novels defy categorisation. In the immortal words of Dana, this really is “all kinds of everything”.

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The Drowning of Arthur Braxton – Caroline Smailes

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Proofs on April 19th, 2013 by admin – 2 Comments

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Published
11/04/2013

Publisher
The Friday Project Limited

ISBN
9780007479092

Source
Publisher

My Rating
5 stars

The only predictable thing about Caroline Smailes’ writing is that it’s unpredictable.  She has such a wonderful wealth of imagination and this is evidenced by the diversity of her novels.  I have already read and enjoyed Black Boxes and Like Bees to Honey (reviewed here ) but I think Arthur Braxton might be the one which brings her to a much wider audience.

Why?  Well, the story of Arthur B can be read on so many different levels.  On the surface it’s an urban fairytale – young teenager, alienated by his peers, falls for a mythical creature only he doesn’t see any problem in their living happily after after.  Dive a little deeper…and you’ll see all the complexities of human relationships, the tragedy of everyday life alongside the joy of feeling loved and wanted.  A little deeper and you appreciate the splashes of Greek mythology which infuse this boy meets girl story – the stories of Daphne, Medea, Castor and Pollux amongst others.

Even though the characters seem very out of the ordinary and not of this world, they come across as real-life, flesh and blood people and the reader is invested in their fate.  Young Laurel was the character who captivated me the most – forever child-like, spelling out words with her Smartie lids, deserving of a much brighter future.  Then there are the ageless twins, Kester and Pollock, heckling from the viewing gallery of the pool, reminding me a lot of those curmudgeonly old hecklers from the Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf….I told you it was different from your usual comfort read!

Whereas some of Caroline Smailes’ other novels have “challenged” readers with their unconventional formats, here she retains the variety of text without overwhelming the reader and it all seems more controlled and lets you settle into the novel with less distractions.  It’s one of  those books you will want to stay up into the wee small hours reading and yet it will seem time as passed as quickly as an episode of Waterloo Road….read the book and you’ll understand.

I have a strong feeling this novel will bring Caroline Smailes much success and mark her out as one of our most promising writers…ahem, Granta…

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