‘The Distance Between Us’

After reading ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox’, I found myself fascinated by the beautiful complexity of Maggie O’Farrell’s writing and very eager to read more! So I bought ‘The Distance Between Us” and definitely wasn’t disappointed.

Whereas some readers do not like it when the plot jumps around between narratives, I love it! Each individual thread of the plot weaves carefully in and out of the storyline and instead of leaving you annoyed that it’s changing again, it completely draws you in and simply builds up and up (in this case, like a small tornado gathering more and more evidence until finally you have all the facts and are left desperate to find out what happens)

It primarily follows the lives of Jake and Stella, two strangers who have never met…until a strange coincidence unites them in Scotland. There are countless twists and turns but I think the most haunting weave of narrative was Stella’s reactions to seeing this man…the fragmented storyline works really well with this subplot because it never reveals too much, we never know what happened until quite near the end of the novel when it is finally revealed.

It is a fantastic novel blending family relations, cultures, tragedies, courage in the face of adversity, heartache and love and it was just a really fascinating, enjoyable read.  I would probably steer clear of this book (and ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox’) if you prefer a straight narrative, but similarly, O’Farrell’s novels are filled with such brilliant characters and gripping events that you could probably get over the disjointedness of it because you’d already be swept up into it!

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‘Nocturnes’

Having just started an internship in Soho, I’ve suddenly gained access to the magical wonderland that is Foyles Bookstore. Now, it wasn’t my first time into this lovely bookstore, but I hadn’t explored it properly in a long time.

Anyway, I wandered into Foyles and took my time wandering and pondering…I eventually settled on 2 books: ‘Nocturnes’ by Kazuo Ishiguro and ‘The distance between us’ by Maggie O’Farrell. Now, my reason for choosing the latter was that I really REALLY enjoyed ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox’ and wanted more of O’Farrell’s work, and my reason for choosing ‘Nocturnes’ was that it was recommended by the staff and I’m of a very trusting nature…

I started with ‘Nocturnes’ and found it to be everything I’d expected and more. From the back cover and appraisals from various sources, I expected to read of love, life and music, with the underlying theme of the inevitable passing of time; and these concepts flowed and weaved throughout the book whilst giving me time between chapters/sections to pause and reflect.

As a musician myself (now in somewhat of a dormant phase…) I absolutely loved how music was being described in different ways throughout the book, but don’t know whether readers from a non-musical-playing background would appreciate it in the same way.

Granted, people not interested in music probably wouldn’t pick the book in the first place, being that the tagline is ‘Five Stories of Music and Nightfall’…but ‘Nocturnes’ is a series of subtly interlinking, beautiful stories, which left me in the mindset that; regardless of the passing of time, love, music or even the love of music remain strong. There are moments of joy and elation, but also of heartache and longing, and I would agree with David Sexton of the Evening Standard…

“These stories come up on you quietly, but then haunt you for days.”