#BookReview THE MATING OF STAGS by RAY ROBINSON

ABOUT THE BOOK

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence. On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door? As beauty and tenderness blend with violence, this story transports us to a different world, subtly exploring love and loss in a language that both bruises and heals.

PUBLISHED BY LIGHTNING BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

publisher website

hive.co.uk

blackwell’s 

MY REVIEW

this was a stark, often despairing but beautifully written story exploring the thoughts of grief and loneliness as we follow Jake on the run – not normal for a man in his seventies, but as his story unfolds we see the moments that lead to this and it is such a powerful exploration of how humans deal with situations they find themselves in, and how they and the people closest to them deal with the consequences.

Jake is a man missing his wife, Edith. But he finds friendship with Sheila and they find comfort in each others company as Sheila is dealing with her own family issues and disappointments, so when Jake goes on the run she is left contemplating their friendship and waiting to hear from him.

And while Jake is on the run, finding new places to hide and hoping his actions don’t catch up with him, we get flashbacks of his life – his marriage to Edith is the main feature – and he’s left alone with his memories both good and bad which isn’t always the best for his mental state.

I loved the difference in the two characters in the lives they had lead but how they were drawn to one another and how they just clicked. At only 220 pages long, this is a book that has a powerful impact on you as a reader as the characters are written with such clarity and full of flaws, but those make the characters easier to relate to. We’ve all been disappointed by people in our lives, as have Jack and Sheila, and it’s that impact on how their lives turn out because of the actions of others that we are witnessing throughout this story. Their reactions, their anger, frustrations – laid bare for us all to see.

It’s one of those books that is gripping, unsettling, heartbreaking and intense and I loved every single blooming page of it! Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

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#BookReview The Lonely City by Olivia Laing #nonfictionnovember

About the book

What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives – from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It’s a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive

Published by Canongate

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

book depository

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a fascinating and thought provoking look at the concept of loneliness, through the author and her own experiences alongside those of a number of famous artists and the struggles they faced of their own, and how loneliness affected their art and outlook on life.

When Olivia Laing moved to New York for a relationship, she quickly found herself alone in a strange city and this book sees her coming to terms with her situation and how it made her feel, and how social media gave her an uneasy sense of security, and often made life easier to face from the safety of a computer screen. It goes into what loneliness means to different people – the isolation, the fear of missing out and not fitting in – and how the world we live in today seems to be fracturing those real relationships and the art of conversation.

This book also features the lives of prominent artists over the years – such as Warhol and Hopper – and how their own lives were blighted by loneliness and despite their fame and success it was a difficult feeling to escape from. It goes into detail of their often complicated lives and was a fascinating insight into some of the art worlds’ most famous names.

I think she captures the mood perfectly in this book – exploring the way the mind works at times, when you often feel ’empowered’ by not conforming and fitting in, and then equally ashamed by not following the pack and feeling outcast. Loneliness isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing and that comes across so well in this book and made for a riveting read.

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