By West Camel
Published by Orenda Books (Ebook - out now; Paperback - 13 December 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher
When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.
Attend is a novel of threads - gritty and dark, tender and light, mysterious and magical - just like the three threads featured on its cover. It's a book of past and present, grief and tragedy, forgiveness and redemption, and hopes and dreams. It's about the uncertainty of life and the unpredictability of the future.
The book features three lonely people - former drug addict Anne who has been estranged from her family for years, young Sam who is in love with a local thug, and the elderly and very eccentric Deborah who claims she can never die. All three strands gradually intertwine as these three people's paths and lives collide.
Attend reads like a soap opera with emotion at its core, featuring the diverse tapestry of life in south-east London. This book is very surreal in places, yet it's also filled with harshness of modern day real life. The realistic dialogue is interspersed with astute observations of characters' appearances and mannerisms. And thanks to the vivid descriptive writing, Deptford (old and new) leaps off the page - I could picture it, smell it, feel it and hear it.
I found myself reading slowly, out loud (under my breath mainly so I didn't annoy members of the household) to savour the gorgeous prose - especially Deborah's chapters, as she recounts stories of her past, through the decades of her life.
Just as the story features an intricate sampler, Attend IS an intricate piece of work, showing off author West Camel's skill in weaving words and phrases together to create a great debut novel.
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