Author: West Camel
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback 287 pages
Release Date: 13 December 2018
Publisher: Orenda Books
Firstly I would like to thank Anne Cater and the Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for inviting me to join in this Blog Tour and for the copy of this book provided to me for review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.
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I was initially drawn to this book by the captivating cover design and if I had seen this book on a shelf I would most definitely have picked it up to investigate further. I would then have found myself even more intrigued by the brief synopsis given above and undoubtedly would have felt compelled to read on.
This story centres around three main characters; Anne, Sam and the rather enigmatic Deborah. Whilst Anne and Sam appear to be living completely separate lives, Deborah crosses paths with both of them, almost as if by fate.
Anne is a recovering heroin addict, trying desperately to get her life back on track but without much support from her family. Unfortunately for Anne she has burned one too many bridges when it comes to second chances and it seems as if her family are just waiting for the moment that she will slip back in to her old ways. When Anne meets Deborah it seems as if she has been thrown a life line, Anne had to leave her friends in the past to prevent her from returning to her old ways and Deborah comes along at a time when Anne is in most need of someone to turn to.
Sam meets Deborah when he is at something of a cross roads in his life, and listening to Deborah tell him stories of her past helps him to put things in perspective and question the decisions he is making in the present.
Deborah is such an interesting character. I thought she was something she’s not but i’m actually glad the author didn’t take her down this particular route as by the time I had read to the end, what he had done with the character was much more eloquent. I can’t really say much more on this point without giving too much away!
This is very much a book which I think warrants a second read as now I’ve got to the end and have pieced it all together I feel there are many points I missed out on or maybe glossed over. This is a very interesting plot and one which I haven’t encountered before. I particularly enjoyed how the author weaved a historical fiction element into the story without this necessarily being a book that I would ‘class’ as historical fiction.
Attend is the kind of book I think many people would enjoy regardless of what books they are usually drawn towards. I could really see this book making a brilliant book club read as there are so many possible themes for discussion.
About the Author
Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost- writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.
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