Sunday, 15 July 2018

Book review : Murmuration - Robert Lock

Having grown up in a seaside town, the front cover of Robert Lock's Murmuration really appealed to me, because the stunning and incomprehensible (to humans) aerial display provided by the flocks of starlings swirling around the burnt out remains of Brighton's West Pier is one of the iconic sights of the South Coast. I was pleased to see these spellbinding murmurations featuring in the book and indeed opening and closing it. Robert Lock has set his book further north, in Blackpool, but the familiar sights, sounds and smells of the seaside towns are identical and mentally transported me back to my south coast childhood.

The birds and the pier provide the backdrop for a novel that spans several generations and over a hundred years of history, from the pier's Victorian beginnings to the modern day, focusing on the classic seaside jobs and personalities : two scandalous comedians born a century apart, a seemingly ageless deckchair attendant and the fortune-teller who believes no one can see the future. Each of these characters has their own story to tell but their lives also overlap as the book progresses.

There is a sense of sadness lurking behind the bright lights and joyful noise of the tourists on the pier, and this is in fact quite realistic. There's something very forlorn about an off-season seaside town when the attractions are shut down and the prom looks like something out of a ghost town, but even in peak season, the lives of the locals are often less cheerful and carefree than most tourists would believe as they're munching on their candy floss and playing on the slot machines. The book offers a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of the town and it was poignant to see that in each period of time over 100 years, young women are lured into the sex trade to earn a living.

I was interested to learn more about the history of the pier, particularly during the war and its heyday, but the book also has a slightly mysterious, paranormal feel, so I'm not sure if it should be read as accurate historical fiction or not. I like the way the pier looks impassively on, witnessing the personal dramas playing out on and under its well-trodden boards, without judgement but sometimes giving a helping hand to restore righteousness and justice in the streets of Blackpool.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (12 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787198243
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787198241

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.


  1. History indeed repeats itself: women have been and still are the victims of male lust. Love your personal story spin on the sea resort story. I can well imagine every sea resort resembles a ghost out of season.

  2. Sounds like a great read, though perhaps not holiday type reading. More like Winter type reading (don't know why it makes me think that!).

  3. Sounds interesting


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