Publisher: Gallic Books | Publication date: 1st April 2016
Too Close to the Edge was my first Pascal Garnier experience. Despite a stunted start, I soon settled into the clipped pace and style of writing. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I ever read a book so quickly!
Eliette has lost her beloved husband to cancer and she is at loss as to what to do with herself. Her grown up children have lives of their own and despite their casual nurturing and occasional watchful glances she has a light-bulb moment of how she wants her life to continue without their father.
Before his death, they had their sights set on a quiet little farmstead. So why not continue the dream? Despite the sadness, she realises she’s not the one who passed away. So, off she goes and along the way she’s developing new skills like driving, claiming a new image by wearing jeans, and she’s even encouraged to invite a helpful stranger into her home, after he kindly changed her tyre in the pouring rain.
Such an event would be unthinkable to her family. But she doesn’t let that hold her back, especially as life is proved to be undoubtedly fragile when another tragedy strikes, as she learns her neighbours’ son has been killed in a car accident. Eliette sees her friends trudging through the fallout from the psychological damage caused by an unexpected incident and this gives her a quiet determination and room to grow.
After a series of horrendous events that conspire against this little group of people and their very personal reactions to the grief process in a quite extreme manner, Eliette finds she is more encouraged by her new found confidence. The enigmatic stranger has an alluring pull and she just can’t help herself, nor does she want to, as she wants to discover more about him and his life before he arrived on the scene. She might be sixty-four, but, after all, she is alive and her desire to step outside her usual ‘motherly box’ finds her dismissing her usual sensibilities.
It’s a diverse tale drawing from a variety of darker ‘domestic’ themes: incest, murder, suicide, discrimination, alcoholism, and drugs. There’s a lot crammed into the pages, yet somehow it’s not oppressive, or disturbingly illicit.
It comes to the boil quickly and bubbles continually to keep the story moving forward. Like I say, it’s one of the quickest reads I’ve ever encountered. If you’re interested in the study of people and their unpredictable reactions to monumental upheavals in their lives, then this is an especially fine example.
(My thanks to the publishers for allowing a digital download of this title via NetGalley for review.)
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Recently widowed grandmother Éliette is returning to her home in the mountains when her micro-car breaks down. A stranger comes to her aid on foot. Éliette offers him a lift, glad of the interruption to her humdrum routine. That night, her neighbours’ son is killed in a road accident. Could the tragedy be linked to the arrival of her good Samaritan?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon. Gallic has published The Panda Theory, How’s the Pain?, The A26 and Moon in a Dead Eye, with more to come in 2014.