20 thoughts on “The Rumour – Lesley Kara

  1. Look like May’s shoes! Anyway, taking a chance on this book and set up a review page here on my long-seasoned site. Heard about it by rumour. I look forward to reading it in due course and real-time reviewing below,,,
    No plot spoilers intended.

  2. 1

    “A sea glimpse might be a better description,…”

    A series of my glimpses of a book rather than a full-blooded sea-view or review? My reviews often spread rumours … and connections towards a Gestalt.
    Do read the plot description of this book in its public blurbs. Because I will not be itemising its plot here, except initially. For fear of spoilers.
    Initially, then, a small seaside town as genius loci, a rumour (begun to be spread by a mother to other mothers at the local school playground) of a woman housed in the town who was imprisoned for child murder. (Murder and mother assonant words, slightly, assonant, too, with rumour?)
    Book blurb enticed me to buy this book, just like the narrator estate agent (single mother?) sells houses? In Chapter 1, we are bestowed with her wry thoughts while selling a house owned by woman in high heels, a woman, now, in the narrator’s eyes, rumour tinged? I wonder how many other of the narrator’s future clients will be thus tinged by stray rumour?

    “And who wears high heels in their own house?”

  3. 2 – 4

    “(thank God for Facebook)”

    And for Nietzsche? The book actually started, I recall, with a quote from this philosopher and he is now mentioned with regard to the rewards of stoicism at the small seaside town Book Club that characterfully takes place during these chapters. I also appear to know this town well! A town evoked here wonderfully, as is its Book Club that the estate agent narrator (Joanna) attends and where she broaches the ambiance-distorting ‘rumour’ from this book.
    Joanna, whose backstory regarding her growing son and his absent, sometimes present, father with the surname Lewis is also conveyed.
    And Star Wars, cupcakes, the safeguarding nature of a ‘morbid imagination’, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a possible next read for members at the Club…. Engaging and crisp narration.

    “There are secrets in this little town you could never imagine.”

  4. 4c828511-3b6c-4053-805a-2244bccbb3e45 & 6

    “Today, it is a deep violet-blue and there’s a hazy shimmer on the horizon that shrouds the wind farm so it’s barely visible. I never tire of looking at the sea. It’s part of my soul;”

    Indeed. Round here, unlike anywhere else.
    The rumour starts to go viral in Joanna’s mind, I guess, as suspicions stand on the shoulders of suspicions.
    Intriguing specific mentions of Agatha Christie, silver surfer, Brexit effect, inconsistent backstory, scented candle, playing with dolls, Puffin Classics, and retention of some clue as to one’s own real name in one’s alter ego or nemonymous name. I may be a rumour myself, a thought that must run through all this book’s readers’ minds?

  5. Pingback: Life as Inconsistent Backstory | DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS - established 2008

  6. 7 – 10

    This book has its own ricochet of rumours radiating from its plot as well as its plot’s central rumour being experienced and expressed for us by Joanna. For example, the once ‘dry’ nature of the town itself (and by that I do not mean the well-known desert climate of this town’s catchment area!), a childhood imaginary friend called Lucy Locket, bullying in schools, the mechanics of a baby-sitting group, a forthcoming Hallowe’en event for children and I also think there is some indirect reference to the historical child killers of Jamie Bulger? Such an approach of gradually gathering rumours from a book — without at the same time issuing spoilers — seems to now reflect my own approach to Gestalt real-time reviewing since 2008, gathering connections, synchronicities, serendipities and, yes, in hindsight, rumours: writing these reviews piecemeal in a place where I have lived for the last twenty odd years in the same catchment area as the town where this book takes place, a town whose name is assonant with its own alter ego.

    “Tears fill my eyes as I picture him at an empty table, swinging his little legs under his chair and pretending he doesn’t mind.”

  7. 11 – 13

    “‘Like Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre,’ I say,”

    “‘Thank you. I will,’ I say. ‘Alfie loves Finding Nemo.’”

    “First impressions aren’t always to be trusted.”

    “How can I tell him the rumour’s just taken on a whole new dimension”

    “the grey wall of sea at the bottom of the road. For a few seconds I allow myself to imagine this wall moving inexorably towards me, obliterating everything and everyone in its wake,”

    A wall for all of us in today’s terms.

    So far, a book that is pitched for all kinds of readers. Compelling, too, as we watch Joanna’s backstory — including her small son Alfie and Alfie’s father — morphing, in real-time, towards her frontstory.

  8. I continue to strive not to reveal here potentially plot-spoiling things about this book as I read it in real-time. But some may decide to share the reading journey with me, as it occurs, or only to read my review when they have finished the book. I am currently about a quarter of the way through it.

  9. img_300514 – 17

    “Stories are everywhere. You just have to find them.”

    Anxiety and paranoia, not only by time’s ticking backstory, but also by today’s Twitter account. Literary quotes, too, about the nature of rumour. And rumour’s by-product, beneficial as well as inimical. Financial and precariously emotional. The special social world of the book’s particular township and fitting into it – only half the battle. Baby-sitting, a means to an end as well as a window on others’ lives beyond one’s capacity to emulate. With a racial undertone, too. Themes in fiction are everywhere, arguably more real than reality itself, and often hidden in plain sight.

  10. 18 – 20

    “I’ve almost reached one of the groynes that divide the beach into sections — horizontal boards bolted into wooden uprights —“
    The book is not a whodunnit but a whoisit, in a place where everyone is framed by the sea.

    ‘Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
    Of what is right, or true, or real
    But forced to qualify: Or so I feel
    Or: Well, it does seem so,
    Someone must know.’
    — from Philip Larkin’s ‘Ignorance’

  11. 21 – 25

    I remain intrigued by the Estate Agent’s narration and her view of houses and people, as part of that vantage point. Plus some accomplished ‘chick lit’ elements of style. Yet, I find this novel quietly horrific, too, and in the past I have reviewed many books about paranoia and anxiety in the horror fiction genre and, so, hopefully, I should know what I am talking about.
    A wall chart of fish leading indirectly to an embedded skull in an aquarium. A presumably official school photograph of a class leading to a potential knife in the chest.
    Needlework leading to ‘divisive’ hallowe’en costumes.
    The witness protection scheme in contiguity with perceived child abduction and “unfollowing” on Facebook.
    Dog poo bags and church choirs. I happily know nothing of the former, but, in this book’s catchment area, I know some nice things about the latter!
    And an eventually dysfunctional beach scene effectively evoked.

    “The beach looked all different.”

  12. 26 & 27

    “Eugh. Now she’s letting him lick her face. I’ve never understood how people can do that.”

    Nor me, and as to the coprophagia types, I shall remain politely silent about what goes on between the lines …

    From Sartre’s dubious Hell as Other People to a party balloon-twister at the Hallowe’en children’s party …we still avidly follow Joanna and her impressions. But as with much great fiction, it is hard to be objective as a bystander, as it were? Authorial intentional fallacy or what? Still looking for Nemo?

    “Frankenstein is the name of the scientist who creates the monster,”

    I remember, myself, old horror films with Vincent Price (The Curse of Frankenstein?) when the populace wielded pitchforks and hounded those who did not fit into the township. Now it’s more insidiously on Twitter, I guess. Between the Spotify playlists. Meanwhile, …

    “, like white space on a page,”

    But the italicised intermissions are even more worrying?
    Halfway through.

  13. 28

    “Twitter is full of twits,”

    I keep trying to guess, and I have now come to a conclusion. I will honestly say below, at the end of my reading this book, whether I was right or wrong when I was halfway through reading it, halfway as I am now – but without saying exactly who I thought it was, at this point in the book today.

  14. 29 – 34

    “Then a psychologist cites the ‘illusion of truth’ effect, whereby the more times something is repeated, the more it is believed. Like rumours, I think.”
    That seems to convey much of the aforementioned ‘Brexit effect’, I guess.
    Meanwhile, there are strong elements of suspense building in this book (including a nightmare), as we continue protectively to witness Joanna’s path through it, amid questions of Who Is It? How can a who be an it rather than a she or he? Amid ‘idle googling’, too, and concepts of the speculative context of any photograph’s ‘frozen image’. And its concomitant, Art, and Art’s dangerous ethos, beyond any such image. This book, like Michael’s projected journalistic research within it, wanting, as collateral, to exploit its subject without harming it, a Nietzschean version of Monster versus Monster as synergy? Yesterday, synchronously, I reviewed a story (‘Truth is Order and Order is Truth’) here related to the latter synergy. “chews air”

    “The standard ‘it were grim up north’ footage.”

  15. 35 – 41

    “My head feels like a jigsaw that’s missing a key piece.”

    Mrs Frankis, carrot cake, TV programmes like Homes under the Hammer and Frozen… and I feel I should now copy and paste what I said above: ‘a book that is pitched for all kinds of readers. Compelling, too…’, ‘accomplished ‘chick lit’ elements of style’, ‘a whoisit, in a place where everyone is framed by the sea.’
    We now reach Liverpool Street station in the latest section, as the emotionally tantalising audit-trail pans out, with everyone still in the frame, with dangers, perceived by our narrator, crowding in, if not always by that frame or wall of sea and the small seaside town mœurs that hide… hide what? I sense I am now, as a reader, heading towards the climactic endgame of this book and that, ineluctably, I may not be able to resist speeding up my reading of it!

  16. 42 – 44

    a95a89c5-e3b4-4e4c-9564-9dd2460f7f4e”Lucy Locket lost her pocket. Kitty Fisher found it.”

    Well, I was entirely wrong, in this real-time review above … about #WhoIsIt, that is. Utterly compelling stuff, though. Uber app, et al. Ed Sheeran, too, but no hills in Flinstead, I guess. Nor castles.

    “Vast chasms of black rearing up at us on either side…”

  17. 45 – end

    “‘We change. Evolve. From one year to the next. One month. One week. Sometimes all it takes is a day. An hour. A minute.’ She inhales deeply. ‘A second.’”

    The real-time of reading.
    The enthralling, if perhaps sensed-as-overlong, dénouement to the #WhoIsIt Effect and its twisted tectonics. But even the coda has its own italicised shock. Poignancy amid the melodramatic revenge and the tying up of loose ends, some loose ends a bit forced, I guess. Yet the strongest and most tantalising elements of the writing in this excellent debut novel subsist to the end, from the ‘monster game’ to ‘identity limbo’. The high-flying properties endemic to the Flinstead catchment area as genius-loci are the properties Joanna needs to sell, in mental contiguity to those of the ‘wrecking-ball’ where it all happened, and happens still.

    “The wallpaper — an old-fashioned print of sprigged flowers — is peeling away in damp scrolls.”

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