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I was delighted to receive this book for review, as I had not read anything by Laurence Fearnley except other reviews of previous books! And while I had intended catching up, I had not yet managed that.
That has changed, or more precisely reading Reach has made me head off to the shelves to get hold of her earlier books.
The title, no pun intended, has far-reaching implications. Chambers Dictionary gives some of the definitions of the verb reach as: to stretch forth; hold out; to succeed in touching or getting; to communicate with; to arrive at; and some of the definitions of the noun form include: the act of reaching; a stretch or portion between defined limits.
All of these can be found encapsulated in this very clever and readable novel. The three central characters Quinn, Marcus and Callum are linked at first tenuously but finally inextricably,as their lives are connected by various events.
Quinn at first seems the most complex character, but all three have flaws and strengths peculiar to themselves.
Fearnley explores the various ways in which we reach, or can be reached by, others; how we interact, how personal space is important to everyone, how very singular individuals can be brought together – and indeed pushed apart. She does this by using the form of a countdown – Quinn, an artist, is preparing for a new exhibition, and the challenges which she faces in her work, her relationship with Marcus, and her friendship with Callum are all explored in depth, with great insight into the complexity of human relationships, the challenges faced and the decisions which must be made.
When I finished reading, I thought about the book a lot. At first I thought that there was very little dialogue, and that much of the text was around the unspoken thoughts of the characters. But then I realised that was not the case – there’s plenty of dialogue, and it’s powerful. However the real insights seem to come through in the way Laurence Fearnley writes about the mind.
I think this is a really good book. It’s well-written, intelligent, complex and creative. I’ll even read it again, which is unusual for me. And now I’m off to start The Hut Builder. I can’t wait to see what it’s like.
Reviewed by Sue Esterman
by Laurence Fearnley
Published by Penguin, 2014