9 Jan 2007

The Crowded Bed (by Mary Cavanagh)

'The Crowded Bed' is an unusual book. It begins with the author, Mary Cavanagh, introducing the main character - Dr Joe Fortune - as he prepares to murder his father-in-law. The rest of the book takes place prior to this - six days in June 2006, and many years from the past.

I was a bit ambivalent about reading this book. The blurb on the back tells me it's about revenge, mutual hatred, cruelty, violence and shocking revelations. It sounds over-dramatic and rather exhausting. I don't like thrillers; I like peaceful stories with happy endings.

Now I've finished, I don't think the blurb does it justice. This is a character-driven novel which is cleverly crafted, revealing the past in such as way as to build up a clear and positive picture of both Joe and his wife, and many of their relatives too.

There is violence and unpleasantness, but it's not described in gory detail. By the end of the first chapter I could quite see why Joe wanted to murder his wife's ghastly father.

If I have a complaint about this book, it's the amount of bad language. Not so much the expletives used under strong emotion, but the casual use of the same words to describe acts of love. It wasn't so excessive as to put me off entirely, but I did get a bit bored of seeing the same four-letter word repeatedly and (in my view) unnecessarily.

Still, as a debut novel this is impressive. I look forward to reading more by this author in future.

For a longer review and more details of this book, see my review of 'The Crowded Bed' at The Bookbag.

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