“I have claimed that escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
Every now and then I read a book I just have to share. The Road Between Us is one of them.
Now, I have to admit, I haven’t read fiction for some time and part of my enamourement could be due to the feeling of returning home after a long absence and sinking, delightedly back into the embrace of a long-lost love. But I believe it is more than that.
Nigel Farndale’s book is exquisite. I finished it today in a quite coffee shop in a normally popular South Brisbane alley. Having escaped the office to read the last 17 pages I found my heart aching and tears brimming.
Explaining to a friend how two parallel storylines, of different eras, were woven together her nose wrinkled, exclaiming that device often didn’t work for her. I admit, at first, there seemed to be no apparent connection between the contemporary 2012 timeline and the one beginning in the late 1930’s but it soon became clear. The reader is not left wanting.
Initially, I was more invested in one plot line than the other then, miraculously, it would switch until I was hungry simply to keep reading, regardless of the narrative. Farndale skilfully keeps the reader on track, devoted to each storyline as well as provoking the intellect with some not insignificant moral and social questions. As in life, relationships are paramount. I feel the tentacles of the rich, elegant and complex relationships of the novel wrapping around my thoughts and I expect they will for some time.
I acknowledge my inexperience, awkwardness and lack of sophistication as a book reviewer but, in this instance, I also do not want to give too much away.
I discovered The Road Between Us in a plastic box in a friend’s linen cupboard. A box of holiday reading options for friends. My copy was scarred by afternoons by the pool and the merriment of holiday makers. Nonetheless, it was a significant find for me and a glorious return to the world of fiction. It is poignant, stunning, electrically charged, heart-wrenching and heart-warming with some skilfully refined and unexpected twists to enrich it even further.
I’m flagging this as a must read novel. Have you read it? I would love to know what you thought. Can you recommend a book I should read next?