When Sam falls in love with South London 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, the mysterious world that lies beneath their feet and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin and a hint of magic realism, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.
I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
I’m writing this minutes after finishing the book, so all my feelings about it are raw and full of swirling emotions, like the tides of the river that features so heavily in this novel.
Reading this book is like wrapping yourself up in a robe that protects you from the cares of the world, as the writing embraces you in it’s soft embrace. Nothing really matters but the story being told and characters that you never want to be parted from, because to leave them behind is like losing a part of yourself, so interwoven had Sam, Deborah, Derek and Anne had become with me as I read. Leaving them was a bittersweet experience, it caused by heart to ache, but I could never regret getting to know them, because in leaving a hole in my heart on parting, they had enriched my soul.
Part fairytale, part love story, it is both magical and endlessly exquisite. It talks about friendship and attending those around us, that we otherwise are blind to. Allowing ourselves to love and be loved, opening our weary tired selves to the possibility of the magic around us. There is a massive heart at the centre of this novel and though the gritty realism catches you unawares, it’s the peace within the maelstrom of events that calms your heart. There is one moment for Anne when violence threatens to engulf her, my heart felt like it would explode, yet even here, it’s the power of the silence that follows and her strength that gives this novel it’s uniqueness for me. For all the main characters are on a journey, that journey is fraught with mistakes, moments of loss, but it’s when they sit quietly and listen, that we to see where that journey might lead them and us.
I remember on reading The Gustav Sonata how I almost forgot to breath as the end of the story approached, desperate for an ending that would catch up my heart, Rose Tremain gave me the perfect ending and so does West Camel. As I read the last chapter, my heart missed a beat and it was utterly spellbinding. They talk about book hangovers, well I have one that I will never forget.
If this book doesn’t end uplk classic of modern writing, it will be a grave injustice. I for one will be singing its praises to all who will listen.
You can purchase Attend from Amazon
About the author
Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.