Newest Review: ... to Osama (presumably Bin Laden) telling him how his acts of terrorism have ruined her life and that of many others. It is written as a yo... more
The novel that blew me away
Incendiary - Chris Cleave
Member Name: hollywoodmum
Incendiary - Chris Cleave
Advantages: Gritty, witty, a real page turner
With time on my hands inbetween finishing college and starting uni I've had time to take up one of my favorite hobbies again, reading.
My boyfriend works as a bin man and collects paper bags for recycling from time to time he finds books and brings them home. last week he bought home two books by Chris Cleave an author I'm unfamiliar with.
I read the blurb on the back of both and decided to start with Incendiary, the main reason being the blurb made the novel sound interesting but it never actually gave anything about the story away.
The blurb was written as if the main character had written it. Here is what is says.
You aren't stupid. You know there is no such thing as a perfect mother. Plenty of other books will tell you there is, but this one won't lie to you.
I was weak and I cheated and I was punished, but my god I loved my child through all of it. Love means you never break, and it means you're stronger than the things they do to you. I know this is true because I have been through fire, and I am proof that love survives.
I am not a perfect mother but I will tell you the perfect true because this is you and me talking. This is my story.
i was intrigued to say the least and even more so when I began to read. The novel is written completely in epistolary form, a letter from a working class mother in Bethnal Green to Osama Bin Laden. At first I found this hard to get my head around but now I can't imagine a more perfect way for it to be written.
Our protagonist never gives away her name, begins the letter my telling Bin Laden about her back ground, how she married a policeman in the bomb squad, their four year old son, how she suffers from her nerves, and how, when she is particularly nervous she commits adultery.
She begins to disclose details of one particular night when she meets Jasper Black in her local pub, a posh upper class journalist who she ends up sleeping with,she then meets him again on May Day. her husband has taken her son to the Arsenal V Chelsea match , while making love with Jasper on her couch they see the televised horror of the stadium being blown up.
Islamic extremists are to blame and the death toll reaches 1008.
This isn't just the story of how one mother begins to cope with the tragic death of her husband and son but how a whole city copes in the wake of such an atrocity.
I would love to say more about the story but I feel like I would give too many spoilers away.
As the book is written as one long letter there are no chapters, it is however split into seasons starting with Spring and ending in Winter.
Despite her faults, the main character is witty, funny, clever and completely likable, in spite of her loss she keeps some sense of humor and she calls a spade a spade which is always a good quality. The upper class characters Jasper and Petra are harder to like , just because they don't understand the working class world, yet they are people everyone will recognise.
I was surprised to find out that the author was male, I had assumed Chris was short for Christine as this is so well written from a woman and mother's perspective. He began writing this novel in 2004, inspired by becoming a first time father and the bombings ion Madrid, it made him think about what would happen if that happened in London. The day after the novels launch party on 6th July 2005, it did. Spooky but the novel reflects the horror felt by the nation.
The book has got every ingredient for a great novel, mystery, intrigue, love, sex. conspiracy and humor. it's very hard to put down, I just wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next.
The ending is neither happy nor sad, it could only be described as real. I personally can't wait to read more novels by this author.
Incendiary won the 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club's First Fiction award 2005 and won the Prix Spécial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007.
It has been published in 20 countries and is an international best seller.
I think I may have just found my new favorite author (but will keep you posted on that). I would highly recommend this novel to anyone, it's not just for women and mothers.
Summary: best book I've read in an age