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This issue’s cover features Ally Kennen and her latest book, Quarry. Ally Kennen is interviewed by Julia Eccleshare. Thanks to Marion Lloyd Books for their help with this January cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 186 January 2011
Jennifer Donnelly’s debut novel, A Gathering Light, was a remarkable achievement. We now have its successor, which for all striving for effect still comes over as something of a disappointment. The problem is the main character Andi, an intensely self-dramatising adolescent who tells her own story. Near suicidal after the death of her younger brother in an accident for which she takes the blame, she now hates almost everyone else, including herself. Holden Caulfield could get away with this in Catcher in the Rye because he comes over as witty as well as woebegone. But Andi is a pain, both in America and then in France, where she starts researching a musician composing at the time of the French Revolution. She goes on to make some astonishing discoveries, not least a diary kept by a girl her own age during the bloodiest days of that time. But the hook up between the two never really works, resting too much on a plot that feels more contrived than real. Less gloom and fewer pages next time, perhaps?