Saturday, 9 July 2011

Wild Nights - Emma Tennant

Occasionally you’ll read a book that is so jaw-droppingly good, you will wonder how someone can take something as prosaic as words and produce such absolute magic. And magic of so many kinds. This is a piece of descriptive writing like no other I have ever read.

On the surface, a novel about family life; the smooth and the rough, the loves and the battles; the present and the past. But that really does not justice to what is a work of mythology as powerful as anything that steps out of the obscuring mists of the past. Indeed, if you want to know what elemental magic feels like, you only need to read this book. It is surreal whilst being grounded in the mundane. It is sumptuous whilst being ordinary. It conjures the most basic of magics out the world around us and casts each character in an elemental role whilst, at the same time, describing the everyday lives of people.

In this it proves that the real dramas, the highs and lows of life, the magic, the wonder, the mystery, are all to be found in the everyday, in the relationships we have with those closest to us and the world in which we live.

To have sustained such powerful and magical writing for page after page, to have served the reader with a rich feast without once faltering, is the mark of a truly great writer. It is a book that sings. It is a book that deserves whatever inadequate praise I can heap upon it. It is a book that has so much more to say about people and life than a dozen other writers could muster over a lifetime of writing. It is a book that deserves to be lauded.