Tuesday, 23 April 2013

'One Moment, One Morning' by Sarah Rayner

It's been a good time for burying myself in work - and also for reading. Last week I piled up those TBRs - and flung myself into some comfort reading. With mixed results, I must say. David Sedaris' 'Naked' was a real treat to return to, twelve or some years after I first read it. On rereading it seemed so much more serious and sour than before. There's a gallows humour in everything that he does, of course, but on this revisit I was really struck by the sadness of the family stories especially. It looks like I might have to reread *all* of his books now, before getting to the new one...

It was warm enough on Saturday to sit in the Beach House to read, for longer than an hour. Strange being there, without Fester in his wickerwork chair, or hopping over to sit or lie on me as I read. But I'm just going to have to get used to that.

I tried to get into one of the books on my pile that's been waiting a hugely long time for my attention. A sequel to a fantasy novel I read twenty years ago. It was an eccentric, whimsical novel that I loved back then - but the sequel was leaving me cold. I did my fifty pages test - and stuck with it as long as I could take it. But I had to abandon the thing. It just wasn't dragging me along bodily into its world. Maybe that's not always mandatory - but it was, to me, this Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon i had a nice reading experience. Jeremy was off rummaging in TK Maxx - and he dropped me in the high street in Cheadle, so i could potter about in charity shops and spy out vintage tat. And I picked up a book I had meant to read last year - and can't remember why I didn't. 'One Moment, One Morning' by Sarah Rayner fell into my hand and, next thing I knew, I was sitting at a tall table, on a stool, in the sunny front window of Cheadle's best little cafe - 'The Big Bite' (!) completely absorbed in this novel. (Having the best coffee of the week, too.)

It was one of those delicious reading experiences where you are just swallowed up by a book. The pace, the view-points, the differentiation between characters, the amount of detail, and the concentration of events is EXACTLY right for the quality of your attention and your mood at that moment. It has a first chapter about a sudden, shockingly unexpected death in the most mundane of situations - in a commuter train heading towards London. It's a book that hits the ground running beautifully - and before you know it - you are introduced to the three leading ladies and seem to know all about them, and you're stuck inside one of those nightmare days with them that seems like it will never end. This makes it seem horrible - but it's not. It's a book about the worst things that can happen to someone - but it's about how new friendships spring up, too. And about how we have to rely on each other when bad things happen.

So - I loved it. I spent three days in the world of Anna, Karen and Lou and their variously over-lapping lives. The whole thing is set during a week in their home town of Brighton, and I really feel like I've been there with them while I've been reading this.

I was about to say that it's a novel about grief... but it isn't that, not quite. It's a novel about shock and repercussions of a terrible, sudden event, and getting ready to deal with grief. And it's done in such a calm, consoling way. With, every now and then, explosions of intensity and lucid rage from all three lead characters. It felt like exactly the kind of novel I wanted to disappear into this weekend - a book about turning everyday tragedy into hope.

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