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

Saturday, 16 March 2013

An Inventory of Heaven - Jane Feaver - guest review

When we first meet her, Mavis Gaunt is living the life of a lonely spinster in a small house in rural Devon. The arrival in the village of divorcee Eve and her son Archie awakens in Mavis a sense of nostalgia and reflection and, with some prompting from Eve who is keen to find out about her own mother’s childhood in the village, the old lady’s hidden memories come flooding back.

Mavis’s childhood in pre-war London was a lonely one, with a philandering father and a cold, distant mother. As she later reflects “Love in our household wasn’t a word that was ever used - not as it is nowadays, at the drop of a hat …”. The contrast between this sterile home life and the world she enters when she’s evacuated to her great-aunt’s house in Devon is acutely observed. Mavis finds friendship for the first time as she joins in the rough and tumble games of the local children, and begins to finally feel at home in close-knit community.

The story takes a darker turn when Mavis returns to Devon in her 20s and rekindles her friendship with the enigmatic Upcott siblings. It becomes clear that the Upcott’s have a number of buried secrets and Mavis observes the disintegration of this once strong and significant family, with tragic consequences.

An Inventory of Heaven is a touching portrait of loneliness and friendship, with a real sense of both the camaraderie and the claustrophobia of rural village life. The writing is reflective and descriptive and, despite the frequent changes of timeframe between the 1940s, 60s and present day, for me the story flowed beautifully. All in all a very absorbing and captivating read.

Reviewed by Denise Powell - guest reviewer

Thanks very much to Denise for reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library. 

Published by Corsair

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel to read and review. 

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