Where to begin? I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but any book that is described as “a spirited portrait of lives gone astray” is off to a pretty good start. The book tells the story of Silver and Edna, two women whose stories intertwine in many ways. It’s slightly odd in parts, exciting, funny and above all very well written.
Now I’ll admit that it took me a couple of chapters to get into, and now and again I’d lose the thread and have to re-read but those are minor annoyances. The first thing that caught my attention was the chapter numbers. 1, 17, 26, 2, 3, 18, 27, 4… and so on. Yet despite this odd numbering scheme the books flows well, the overlapping chapters merge and you barely notice the leap from one thread to the next. This is, in no small part, thanks to the wonderfully written main characters who slowly reveal themselves throughout the book. For me this was the strongest part of the book, and with each passing scenario I found myself mentally re-addressing the persona of each character.
The story itself is centred mainly around Silver, a young woman who gives up her day job and pretty much everything else to become an artist like her ever-so slightly insane mother (who features in the book despite being dead after jumping off the roof of the local British Legion hall). It also features a lot of drug taking and no small amount of social commentary, sex, and that’s all before you get to the darker parts of the book.
It’s kind of hard to describe the book as it’s not an out-and-out thriller nor is it purely a character study. It’s not wholly about death, or drugs, or love, or any other emotion, and it’s not set in a huge world with grand themes. What that does mean is that you get a very good picture of the life these people lead, the world they inhabit (and how limited it is for them) and it seems almost biographical at times (autobiographical maybe?).
I thoroughly enjoyed this, right up to the last few page-turning moments, and I whole heartedly recommend this to anyone who just loves reading.