What is it about?
Set in London in the early 20th century, The Waves follows the lives of six friends – Bernard (a well-off well-to-do who dreams of being a writer), Neville (a sensitive, wonderfully talented gay man who loves with all his soul), Louis (a young Australian immigrant with a chip on his shoulder that develops into arrogance), Jinny (a high society sinner), Susan (a motherly farmer who harbours deep-seated insecurities), and Rhoda (a shy, careful outsider who just wants to fit in). The first time we see them they are scarcely more than toddlers, we follow them through school, through their relationships and careers, right up to their deaths. The main point of the novel is the untimely death of their almost hero-worshipped friend, Percival, and how each of the characters react to it, and how the grief ripples outward.
Is it any good?
The most interesting part of the novel is its narration. It is in the first person, but is told as though it were a conversation (e.g. “It is hot today,” said Susan. ” We walk forwards together.” / “A bird flies overhead,” said Louis. “I can hear it.”). This is a confusing approach at first, then it becomes intriguing – but the novelty quickly wears off when it leaves you faced with solid walls of far-too-flowery text. There is just too much imagery that is completely unrooted in reality, leaving the reader perplexed about what is actually going on. Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautiful, unique novel – but it just wasn’t for me; something that takes so much hard work to get through cannot be enjoyable.
How long did it take to read: nine days
For fans of: Agua Viva by Clarice Lispecter, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride, new experiences
This book tastes like: roast parsnips