A.L. Kennedy is an all-time favorite of mine. Her writing is unlike anyone else out there. Her story ideas, truly unique. I would tell you a little about this book, but that's hard to do without giving too much away, or diminishing it. I will say, it takes place on a boat shuttling retirees from Britain to America, present dayish. The novel follows the strangely misplaced, younger passengers Beth and mysterious Arthur, and explores the murky past between them... all this while Beth's better half suffers from a fiendish bout of sea sickness. Throw in some psychic mediums, dead mothers, and disappointing fathers along the way, and you have what turns out to be a surprisingly touching, humorous, and heartbreaking novel.
A.L. Kennedy is not a gentle writer. She's raw, cunning, and crude. Most of her books are manipulative and mind-bending, and this one is no exception. But her acrobatic writing will leave you dizzy and breathless and hooked. She's phenomenal. If you haven't read her, you're not reading the right things.
From one of the U.K.'s most dazzling novelists whom Richard Ford has called a profound writer comes this daring new novel set in the unsteady, self-contained world of a luxury liner. While on a transatlantic trip with her soon-to-be-fiance Derek, Elizabeth unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Arthur, with whom she shares a shady past: The pair once worked as traveling spiritual mediums who conned the vulnerable by pretending to contact the spirits of departed loved ones. While Derek remains seasick and cabin-bound, Elizabeth wanders the ship, alternately avoiding and seeking out Arthur. Unable to avoid memories of their fractured past, she must face the deception they practiced even as she accepts the peace they brought to the grief-stricken who sought their services. Intimately addressed to you, the reader, "The Blue Book" is both a portrait of two methodical con artists and a meditation on how love is a private language, a set of codes, to which the outside world ought not admit impediment ("Telegraph"). Irresistibly written, by turns comically wry and stunningly lyrical, with some of the most unashamedly erotic writing since Nicholson Baker first contemplated a telephone receiver ("New Statesman"), the book slowly, deliberately, and devastatingly reveals itself to the reader. The heartbreaking stakes are ultimately nothing less than fact and fiction, life and death.