Monday, 11 August 2014
Disraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes
review by Maryom
This collection of short stories grew out of Caroline Smailes' debut novel In Search of Adam which told the story of Jude Williams who lived at 9 Disraeli Avenue. Exploring themes of abuse and self-harm, it had a massive response from readers who had suffered themselves and in an effort to do something to help, the author wrote this collection of short stories, giving all the royalties from it to the charity One in Four which provides support for victims of abuse.
Disraeli Avenue, New Lymouth is a street like any other; 32 semi-detached houses, seemingly like but behind each brightly coloured front door hides a tale. Through the voices of its residents we hear of love affairs, money troubles, hopes, dreams and regrets. Some will have you laughing; others bring you close to tears; some just shock you!
Brought to life through a variety of styles - from talking direct to 'camera' to telephone conversations or even text messages - house by house the individual tales build up to a portrait of the street.
I've come to Caroline Smailes' novels a little late in the day, starting with her fifth The Drowning Of Arthur Braxton last year. That was a merging of myth and real life, but Disraeli Avenue is very firmly planted in the real world.
At first the stories seem to jump about a bit - each resident, after all, has their own priorities - but if you find it hard to slot all the stories together, there's always the "Queen of tittle-tattle", Mrs Clark at number 14, and her best mate Mrs Symons (No 11) to give a quick low-down on everyone's comings and goings.
If there's a downside, it's that there are probably plot spoilers in there for In Search of Adam, but I was left intrigued enough to want to track it down and read it.
Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - The Friday Project
Genre - Adult fiction, short stories,