Humbled is how I feel after reading this debut novel by the wonderful writer, Diana Evans. I was lucky to stumble across her second novel, The Wonder, then read about her award winning first novel and finally got around to reading it.
Here's the blurb:
Identical twins Georgia and Bessi live in the loft of 26 Waifer Avenue, a
place of beanbags, nectarines and secrets, and visitors must always knock before
entering. Down below there is not much harmony. Their mother has mysterious ways
of dealing with her homesickness for Nigeria; their father has angry ways of
dealing with his demons. Forced to create their own identities, the Hunter
children build a separate universe in which older sister Bel acts as nurturer
and rebel, and baby sister Kemy tries to be the third twin.
During a long sojourn in Nigeria, harsh realities come knocking and the
fantasies of childhood start to give way. How will Georgia and Bessi cope in a
world of separateness, fear and solitude, and which is them will be stronger?
Part of the story was set in London and during the time of Princess Di's wedding and ultimate divorce. It's a particularly useful device to create a world in a place that people can identify with and that won me over from the first.
I was interested in all of Evans' characters as soon as they are introduced and wanting to know how their lives would turn out, whether I liked them as people or not. Very realistic.
The pace is slow but intense so you never feel as though the story is dragging at any point and you want to keep turning the page.
The plot is simple yet you get the sense that a lot of soul searching went into creating this as there seems to be somewhat of an autobiographical feel to this piece of literature. It's not unusual for a first novel to be based on reality and it is a very good writer that can take facts and make them into intriguing fiction.
The writing is so accomplished you'd think this was a third book not a debut.
There is warmth, excitement, tension and some humorous moments in this novel. I loved her use of dialogue. It was spot on and thrilling.
Compelling is the word I use to describe this book. And Evans does not let us down when the story comes to a satisfying end that will bring out all sorts of emotions and questions once you've read the last page.
Right now Diana Evans is writing a third novel and I can't wait to get my hands on it when it comes out.
For more information about this writer check out her site.