I first heard about this book last year when several people were surprised that it didn’t appear on the Booker long list. I hadn’t read any of her books and was intrigued by the praise she was getting. Unfortunately I forgot all about her until the book appeared on the Orange long list last week. I immediately reserved a copy from my local library and eagerly awaited its arrival.
This is How follows Patrick, a young man who moves into a boarding house after his fiancee breaks off their engagement. Depressed and alone he struggles to connect with the other occupations of the house and finds himself wandering around the small British sea-side town, trying to come to terms with his situation.
I read This is How in a single sitting. The clarity of the words was amazing – the descriptions so vivid that I could almost imagine I was there. I was immediately sucked into Patrick’s world, feeling all of his intense emotions. The plot flowed along at a steady pace and I was never tempted to put it down.
What could possibly go wrong with a book so well written? I find it hard to explain without giving things away, but this book made me see why Orange judge Daisy Goodwin might have had reason to complain about the misery present in books. The second half of this book was very depressing. I don’t mind a bit of tragedy, but I do like there to be at least a shred of hope at the end of a book and this one just slipped further and further into misery.
This leaves me with a problem. Can I recommend a book that is beautifully written, but bleak and without hope? I’m not sure.
I’ll let you decide whether or not you want to read it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Have you read This is How?
Do you think it will make it onto the Orange short list?