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A Blow to the Heart - Marcel Theroux

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Marcel Theroux / ISBN: 0571229514 / Publication Date: 2006 / Publisher: Faber & Faber

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      11.01.2012 17:40
      Very helpful



      The grief game

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      Daisy Polidoro life is in ruins when at 32 the love of her life Stuart is senselessly killed in a random attack while our getting the morning papers. What makes her completely incensed is the man responsible for this attack a 17 year old called Joel Health gets a two year sentence in a young offenders institution for manslaughter. And to make matters even worse Daisy had been pregnant when Stuart was killed and she very soon after lost what would have been they first child.

      Daisy feels unable to move on in her life, it now has no meaning for her. She tries various things such as long out of the way holidays but still feels empty, lost and very angry when she returns. She even gives up her job as a journalist and works in a less high pressured environment of her local library, but still the bitterness and need for revenge remains with her.

      Two years have passed and Daisy continues in her now aimless way. When she is just goes out to post a letter and she comes face to face with her husbands killer. He is starring at her on a fly-poster advertising his next Boxing bout. She knows she must watch him and come up with a plan to avenge her husbands murder so that she can end her grief, pain and torment she feels every hour of every day.

      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      I thought this was good and very interesting piece of fiction, which for me in many ways seemed very believable and down to earth. It certainly was not a great piece of writing I think part of the reason for this was it was comparatively short and failed to examine all the central characters feelings and viewpoint, but none the less it was well written and I quite enjoyed it.

      When I first picked up this book I was expecting a thriller as on the cover The Times described it as ' A compelling thriller', but for me it wasn't what I would describe as a thriller. For me it was more of a emotional read and understanding how Daisy would deal with the after mouth of her husbands murder. It was full of insight into her feelings and how she dealt with it and to call it a thriller really isn't describing the book adequately.

      This is my first experience of Marcel Theroux work and before I saw this in the Local Charity Shop I had never even heard of him. He is an English author born in 1968. So far he has written six books four fiction and two non-fiction, of which this book was his third piece of fiction and written in 2006. When I came to purchase this book I had no expectation about his work and I was just looking forward to read something a bit different from the usual and this I think I got in this book.

      Before I purchased it I had a look at the summary on the back of it and despite being only a small paragraphs long it impressed me. Usually I expect to see two or three bigger paragraphs of the plot, but this one was filled up with relevant quotes from journalists advising their thoughts and opinions on the book after having read it. I thought this plus the short paragraph was enough to arouse my curiosity and persuaded me to purchase it.

      What surprised me was I expected quite a long preamble about what life was like before the murder for Daisy and Stuart, but the author has skilfully dealt with their contented life and Stuarts untimely death all in for first chapter which was only eight pages. I had expected a big lead up to this but within that short space of time Theroux had given the reader a good insight into their lives and how happy they where together.

      This helped me very quickly get into the story and build a lot of empathy and understanding for Daisy's unhappiness and grief. I liked the way the story flowed and the way she did understandable things to try and move on in her life but always with the emptiness and the feeling of revenge that dogged her.

      I liked the way the story followed her and I could relate to how she felt she had to watch the man who had killed her husband fight and how she wanted him to lose badly and feel a small percentage of the hurt and pain she was still going through. And because it was written with a lot of thought and sensitively you as the reader could understand all her thoughts and emotions.

      There for me was a real feeling at times that you did not know what direction the story was going to take. It was clear Daisy wanted revenge, but initially how she would go about this was not clear and you wondered if she would simply kill him, but how and when and could she ever be justified for reaking her own revenge?

      I liked the way the story developed and although at several times in the story because of the direction it took I thought I knew what would eventually happen I'm glad to say I was wrong. For me there was always the feeling on the unexpected in the story and what was refreshing from my point of view was their was a real honesty and realism about what I was reading. Nothing in life is simple or plain sailing and I think the author was excellent at showing this.

      The story revolved around Boxing, which is something I am not interested in or like and while their was a lot of detail about the industry, moves and talk about it, I always felt there was enough in the characters and the way the story was changing to negate all this. For a Boxing fan I guess this would be a real bonus but for me it did bore me a little and I found I wanted to get back to something or indeed anything else.

      However because of what had happened to Daisy I always expected the unexpected. There was a real sense of suspense and mystery about what revenge she may want. This followed the majority of the book until the last couple of exciting chapters when other factors seem to take over. I always felt that Daisy's plans because at times they where going well would be ruined at any minute and so you always had the sense not necessarily of doom but there would be someone or something to put a fly in the ointment.

      The conclusion had I just read half the book would have not made any sense and you would not be able to understand how the story got to this point. It was fast paced and very exciting and not at all the ending I would expected. But again their was a real sense this was believable and I left the book feeling it was an interesting read rather than a page turner or a pulsating one. It certainly made me think at times and wonder how I would deal with the situations that confronted not only Daisy but the other main characters as well.

      For me all the way through this story the author demonstrated an understanding of Boxing but what was more important to me an understanding of human nature. I thought it was very well written and he described both scenes and feelings with admiral quality. Although I did on a couple of occasions feel he just left characters by the way in the story and only brought them back when he needed them. And because these where previously important characters I would have preferred ongoing reports and developments in their lives rather than being brought up to speed all in one go about their activities. As I found I was wondering what had happened to them and why they were no longer featuring in the story.

      Daisy was the main character in the story and because of what had happened to her I found her a very easy character to like and empathise with. The author I thought was consistent when dealing with her thoughts, emotions and opinion and I found as a result her a very good character and very easy to like and understand. And while she occasionally did things I would not have done or maybe even expected her to do, she was in the unique situation and dealing with a massive shock and unimaginable grief.

      She was supported by a excellent array of support characters. These where easily recognisable because there was firstly not that many of them but importantly because they all had unusual personalities and characteristics. Some I found I wanted to know more about and others because of their personalities I wanted to know less about!! For me their was a good blend and at various times the author would follow one of these to show their feelings and thoughts on a particular subject. For me I would have liked to see more of this, yes it may have slowed the story down but I think you would have got a more complete picture by doing this.

      One of the themes of the book was discrimination in various forms and I thought the author handled the subject with understanding and sensitivity. It would good to see that change is possible when contested but you could still see some bastions seemed impossible to break because of ingrained beliefs.


      I was pleased that I read this piece of fiction. It was not the best novel I have ever enjoyed but it was well written and interesting. The only thing I didn't enjoy too much was the subject matter of Boxing which ruined it slightly for me but I liked the concept behind the story and most of the books varied characters.

      ==Other Information:==
      Paperback version:

      Pages: 224
      Price: 7.19 New at Amazon
      Publisher: Faber and Faber
      ISBN-10: 0571229522
      ISBN-13: 978-0571229529
      Year of Publication: 2006

      Thanks for reading my review.

      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.

      © CPTDANIELS January 2012.


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