Sunday, 31 August 2014

Book Review: Of Things Gone Astray

Of Things Gone Astray
By Janina Matthewson
Published by The Friday Project
Published in hardback and ebook.
Paperback will be available in 2015.

There are only a handful of authors who I like so much that I become impatient to read their next book. Janina Matthewson is one of those authors. A couple of years ago I read in one sitting Matthewson's short story, The Understanding of Women and absolutely loved it so much that I read it from the beginning straight away. Last week saw the publication of Matthewson's debut novel, Of Things Gone Astray, published by the fantastic The Friday Project. I loved it.

On a normal morning in London, a group people, not yet connected to each other, awake to find something is lost, something precious. Mrs Featherby, an almost recluse, is missing the front wall of her house - she is exposed to the world. Cassie has lost her girlfriend who has not arrived back in the country. Robert, a life long famous musician, has lost the piano keys to the piano he built with his father. Marcus has lost his place of work, while Delia has lost her sense of direction. But there is one character, Jake, who has lost his mother in an earthquake, and is now living with his father, who is collecting the things people are losing.

Of Things Gone Astray follows the characters as they try to find the things they have lost. This means facing up the the unhappiness in their lives, having to deal with a life that has been put on hold, being pushed into the unknown. All the characters have one thing in common - the need to move on with their lives but they are unwilling to take that leap of faith. These events of losing things is the catalyst that these characters need.

Matthewson has created a fantastic bunch of characters who must face up to grief, the relationships in their lives, the inability to make life changing decisions. For me, the stand out character was Cassie, who gradually turns into a tree as she stands waiting for her girlfriend to arrive at Heathrow. Matthewson blends together the fantastic with reality to create Cassie's story line that is both full of imagery and emotion.

This is a book full of sadness and loss but it is also a book full of hope and determination. The way Matthewson is able to create a book that makes the reader want to cry with sadness and with happiness reminded me of Andrew Kaufman's The Tiny Wife and Aimee Bender's short stories.

I could have easily read this book in one sitting but I didn't want to let go of these characters so I stretched out my time with them. This is a fantastic, magical book that makes you want to hug the characters and makes you appreciate the life you have.

You MUST go and buy this book. NOW.

The Friday Project kindly sent me a copy.

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