The Roundabout Man by Clare Morrall

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The Roundabout Man

Five words from the blurb: childhood, books, reclusive, past, truths

I loved Astonishing Splashes of Colour, so was keen to try Morrall’s new book. Unfortunately it isn’t in the same league, but it is still an enjoyable read.

The book introduces Quinn, a man living an isolated life in a caravan on a roundabout.  Quinn has few possessions and relies on food scavenged from the nearby motorway service station. He is befriended by its employees, who wonder why he leads this bizarre existence. The truth has something to do with the fact that his mother was a famous author who immortalised his life (and that of his triplet sisters) in a series of very successful children’s books.

Clare Morrall has an amazing ability to create eccentric characters. They are well-rounded and believable, but also sensitively portrayed, without a hint of sensationalism.

Much of the book reminded me of the film, Enid, which showed how Enid Blyton’s hectic schedule of writing and publicity led to her children being largely ignored.

When I was about three, I kept trying to sneak into the drawing room where my mother was writing, shuffling along the floor on my bottom, humming softly to myself, trying to be quiet but needing to imagine the motor of a car beneath me.
‘Not now, Quinn, I’m busy.’
Sometimes I reached the desk before she saw me, and once I even managed to lean my head against her legs.
‘Go away, please, Quinn. I need to concentrate.’
Why didn’t she just tolerate my presence for a while, let me stay there, even put out a hand and stroke my hair? I know she was busy, but I wouldn’t have disturbed her.

The first half of the book was very good, creating an interesting story with layers of mystery. Unfortunately the plot petered out in the middle and I found that the more I knew, the less interested I was in carrying on. I was initially going to criticise the book for its slightly disappointing revelations, but as I normally complain about unlikely coincidences, I should probably praise their realism!

Things picked up towards the end and I thought the final page was especially good. The quietness of the plot meant that I actually appreciated the book more after I’d had a few days to let the general themes settle in my head.

Recommended to Clare Morrall fans. Everyone else should read Astonishing Splashes of Colour first.

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The thoughts of other bloggers:

…a really clever fusion of urban legend, news story and popular history. The Book and Biscuit

Sometimes the story rambled. Sometimes it became a little too fanciful……But its strangeness and charm kept me holding on. Fleur Fisher in her World

This is a beautifully written story with fully realised and engaging characters. Lovely Treez Reads


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