The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth

The Wake 23.08.14

Written entirely in ‘shadow-tongue’, The Wake makes for an usual and intriguing read.

Publisher: Unbound | Publication date: 20th March 2014 | Edition: Hardback (own copy)

sum thing is cuman

A most refreshing way of telling a tale.

The language enchanting, it provides a regular beating pulse throughout the book and adds a mystical quality to the era.

It’s an interesting story, rather than a gripping one. Keeping to an even pace it is perfectly timed, almost lyrical, allowing you to absorb the “shadow tongue” the writer has adopted throughout.

The story is one of a man of the Lincolnshire Fenns and the changing times he finds himself in following the Norman invasion. This is told in his own words, some are familiar, some are not. At first it was hard going, particularly as there are no capital letters where you expect them to appear and it’s missing the usual things like full stops at the end of sentences. You might think that gruelling, but you easily settle into the beat of the writing.

One word to the wise – stupidly, I didn’t realise this book had a glossary in the back (should have gone to Specsavers) and only found that out when I searched for a word online. Therefore, some parts I had to read twice. For example:

Fairly early on someone in the story was unwell and this was being discussed,

…we needs sum wif (‘woman’) to be with him with eced (vinegar) and senap (mustard) and wyrts (herbs)…

In my head I’d vaguely translated that this ‘lady’ didn’t have mustard (senap) as she should have, but she had a moustache (cenap) instead. I know they believed in all sorts of cures back then, but even so – the glossary was a huge relief from then on!

This book is bizarre and totally different from anything I’ve read before. For me, it’ll certainly be a keeper.

Highly recommended to those with patience.

Rating: 4/5


Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing 23.08.14

Excellent read and a real conundrum for Maud – gives a realistic insight into the life of a dementia sufferer and those around them, from both sides.

Publisher: Viking 1st Edition | Publication date: 5th June 2014 | Edition: Hardback (own copy)

To me, this wasn’t really a mystery – it was more of a journey.

This is an easy paced read which sets you on a slow path to offer a peek into Maud’s everyday life, a life where she is becoming increasingly forgetful and frustrated. Her only constant is her search for her friend, Elizabeth – with ‘clues’ being scrawled on post it notes that she shoves in her pockets for her to solve later. These random pieces of paper are a reminder of Maud’s never-ending endeavours, seemingly to no avail and with no one taking her seriously.

As we are transported from the current day to the ‘young Maud’s’ past and back again, a more sinister plot gradually begins to reveal itself.

Throughout the pages we can experience the various POVs of someone suffering from Dementia – the Marvellous Maud, her Daughter, Helen, and the many people that touch her life, both past and present. The struggles and dilemmas that are created by Maud’s condition are captured excellently in this book, it’s balanced without being too sappy or equally ‘as hard as nails’ about it.

Although there is no massive shock/surprise when you reach the conclusion of Elizabeth is missing (not for me anyway) it is certainly a very clever bit of writing that handles a difficult subject with ease, scattering a little humour along the way.

I’ve given this a 4 star rating as at times the pace was a little too slow for my liking. This is most definitely down to my personal preference rather than through any fault of the book.

All in all I would wholeheartedly recommend it, as it’s the little details it shares with us that are quite special.

Rating: 4/5

You can follow the author on Twitter: @ECHealey