Thursday 5 May 2011

Book review : Nine Lives - Dan Fox

*** Don't miss my competition to win a copy of Nine Lives coming up very soon  right here on my blog ! ***

If someone told me that women couldn't write great action novels or thrillers, I'd tell them that they were not only wrong but also sexist. It's therefore completely hypocritical that I am so surprised that a male author has managed to come up with a book that is so poetic, introspective and - dare I say it ? - romantic. It's not  classic girl-meets-guy frothy chicklit but it is certainly, at least in part, a love story.

Nine Lives, with the subtitle A Journey Through Life, chronicles the lifestory of its central character Dan Roberts. From his hectic lifestyle as an expat working in Hong Kong to slower-paced romantic afternoons in the Kent countryside and Paris then on to darker days of alcohol-fuelled depression, the book slowly reveals the constantly evolving personality and life of the protagonist.

The sentence structure and punctuation seemed a bit haphazard at times but this is largely what gives the writing its sense of poetic lyricism. This is not a fast-paced action novel, it's a slow meander through one man's life, studded with existential questions and words of wisdom to make you think long after you've turned the final page.

I actually inadvertently spoiled the ending for myself because I started off by reading the author's message of thanks at the end of the book - something I often do before plunging into the story to see if it's based on fact, the author's own experiences or pure invention. However, this time there are a couple of huge spoilers so I  knew where the book was going before I got anywhere near the end. You have been warned !

Scanning through other people's reviews and comments, the same words constantly reappear - deep, powerful, beautiful, emotive, poetic, thought-provoking - and it is certainly all of those things. It actually reminded me of studying Shakespeare in my A-level English classes many moons ago, where he evokes the Seven Ages of Man in his famous All The World's A Stage speech. Shakespeare takes us from "the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" right through to "second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything". Dan Fox brings this notion right up to date, with current events cleverly woven into the narrative and a love story that will tug at your heart strings.

I have a special affection for Dan (or, by his real name, Ian Wilson) as he originally hails from my hometown of Hastings in Sussex and is, also like me, an expat now living on the continent. I'll definitely be looking out for his future works to see if my local area gets another cheeky mention !

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £5.99

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