The #Bookvent Calendar 2018: Day 20

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#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2018 

My twentieth #bookvent selection is one which took me completely by surprise. With echoes of the beautifully lyrical titles that Orenda Books does so well, such as The Bird Tribunal and Sealskin, this book is one which demands you attention and takes you beyond the everyday into something quite magical. Although on the surface it is a tale of modern life, of love, family, addictions and mistakes, it is also so, so much more. Beautiful, haunting, charming and magical, my day twenty #bookvent choice is …

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Attend

by West Camel

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.

Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, an exquisite history of hidden Deptford and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.

With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

The very problem with books like Attend is that it is so hard to really explain why you liked it and to do the book justice. It is hard to talk about it at all without giving away major plot points or risking it sounding like something rather strange when it is actually something exquisite. The language used is beautiful, painting a picture of Deptford, both now and during the war years, which is so clear, so vivid. Characterisations are perfect and you can not only see the stark differences between the lives of the three main characters, Deborah, Anne and Sam, but also feel their pains, their external conflict and their inner turmoil. Deborah’s story is magical, almost unbelievable and yet … West Camel has portrayed it in such away that you cannot entirely dismiss what she has to say as the ramblings of an old lady. Almost … but not quite. Anne’s story is very harsh in comparison, a recovering drug addict who is struggling with acceptance within her family and her own mind. This is captured in a realistic and yet sympathetic way. Even if she is the architect of her own fortune, you still feel for her, the woman she has become who is trying hard to do the right thing, even if she doesn’t know what that is. And Sam. Bless him. He is just looking for love, a love he finds in the most unlikely of places. Torn between what he knows and what he feels. The story is fun, poignant, dramatic and mystical. It is one which will challenge you, make you think. It is a book whose haunting impact lasts far beyond the final page. Fabulous stuff.

If you would like to read my full review of Attend you can find it here. It is available from the following retailers:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Kobo ~ Waterstones

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Happy #bookvent reading all

JL

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