Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday, 2 September 2011

Cold Light - Jenn Ashworth

A dark, bleak, tragic tale of three fourteen-year-old girls in a northern town in the late nineties, with them delving into the adult world and getting hurt and damaged. There is a flasher around, and girls in the town are on their guard. Laura, known as Lola as a teenager, values her friendship with Chloe, despite it’s difficulties, because she now has someone to hang out with, someone she likes being in the company of. But when Chloe starts seeing Carl, in his late twenties, and when she also becomes more friendly with another girl at school, Emma, Laura experiences jealousy and wishes things could be like they were before. Laura is the first person narrator and so it’s through her eyes that we see everything, and it’s her thoughts that we are privy to. Thoughts about her schooldays, her life at the time all the things happen involving Chloe, Carl, Emma and herself, her relationship with her mother and father, and her thoughts now, in her twenties, looking back on that period of her life, as a new event occurs that relates to that time in her past.

Despite the grim premise and storyline, and the undisputedly sad turn of affairs, this is an intriguing read and I found it compelling. It is tense and atmospheric, and I was very drawn in by the voice of Laura narrating the story. I had to know what had happened. It’s a clever novel with all-too-true observations about how teenage girls are still young girls with immaturities and naiveties on the one hand, but on the other they are creeping ever closer to the adult world, discovering the disappointments and realities of life, trying alcohol and sex, and the line between the two worlds of adolescence and adulthood becomes blurred like here, where their experiences tip over into that adult world and they find it can be a very dark, cruel place. It’s also about how someone can affect the lives of others, whether knowingly or unknowingly. I love the author’s writing style, and I think I liked this novel even more than her first, A Kind of Intimacy. Looking forward to her next book.


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