Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Kindest Thing by Cath Staincliffe

Enjoy is perhaps not the most appropriate word to describe the story of a woman who is accused of assisting her sick husband to die but author Cath Staincliffe's words sucked me into them and held me firmly in their grasp from beginning to end and enjoy them I did. It left me feeling reflective. What is so fascinating about Cath's new novel is the change of style from her usual Sal Kilkenny mysteries and  Blue Murder TV series starring Caroline Quentin to this more literary study of a topical subject that could face anyone. Deborah is persuaded, against her better judgment, to help husband Neil to end his life. Neil is dying of motor neurone disease and he wants to go out with dignity, feeling well; the irony of this is that he doesn't die a good death but I won't spoil the ending. The magnetism of Cath's writing has as much to do with her thorough research as it has to do with her syntax. For anyone who thinks 'there's a book in everyone', think again. Books are on shelves, between covers and it isn't a simple matter of dropping words onto a keyboard. Cath spent hours learning about legal and court procedures and gleaned much about everyday life in a woman's prison by going into one and talking to the prisoners. She recreates the 'warm, worn wood of the dock' realistically. Her research is meticulously woven into the fabric of her plot. I'm inclined to find flashbacks and time switches distracting but they are hardly noticeable here as they are so necessary to understanding the loving relationship that has built up since the couple met at university; it is done brick by brick until the wall is up and a loving family unit has been created; only to be tragically destroyed. We follow the effect of Deborah's actions on the lives of the couple's two children and get an insight into the workings of the mind of a woman in grief for the husband she loves while she fights to defend herself against his murder - or manslaughter. It's not so much a plot as an examination of the lives of two people and an insightful study of human reactions, thoughts, feelings and fears from the viewpoints of the people whose lives are touched by Deborah's actions. Five stars.

The Kindest Thing is published by Robinson UK, 2010

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