Books, life the universe

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Night Following

The Night Following by Morag Joss is a beautifully produced book and a clever and intriguing idea but . . . . It didn't quite do it for me partly because I did not like the main character.

The main narrator finds out her husband is having an affair. As a result she is not giving driving her husband's car her full attention and kills a cyclist. Ruth was a retired teacher married to Arthur. Arthur's letters to the dead Ruth make up another part of the book and these I did find fascinating. It is suggested to him they would be good therapy for him. The first few letters are brief and a bit irritable because he doesn't see how they will help but gradually he starts to recall forgotten aspects of their marriage.

The third part of the book is a story Ruth was writing when she died which at first seems to have no relevance to the rest of the book though on deeper inspection it does link up with it in some quite subtle ways. Yes, the book is well written but the main narrator's actions seem incomprehensible and she is not a likable character. She starts to stalk Arthur and eventually starts doing housework for him. He seems to think she is his dead wife returned to him though he never talks to her and avoids her when she's in the house.

This narrator is never named and for some unfathomable reason never tracked down by the police even though she was driving a yellow Saab convertible - whose paint the police would have had no trouble matching to fragments on the victim. As I could not swallow the scenario of the accident I suppose I was put off the book from the start.

It was a clever idea and even though the letters from Arthur to Ruth were convincing I could not like this book. I think the author made a mistake by not naming the narrator and by making her actions so incomprehensible. Her background would have led one to assume she would have called the police immediately even if she was upset about her husband's affair. The book is very well written but I could not swallow the event on which the whole thing hinges.

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