Tuesday 21 April 2015

Leaves - John Simmons

This is a beautifully written book.  It is set in 1970 and is split into 5 parts; 4 parts representing each season and 1 final part for New Year.  You can really feel the seasons through the writing; the chill of Winter; the promise of Spring; the madness of Summer; and the crispness of Autumn.

Meet some of the residents of Ophelia Street; Keith and Brenda, who have been unhappily married since their shotgun wedding as teenagers; siblings Gerald and Selene, Gerald owns the local factory and Selene runs around after him like a servant; and Robert Johnson, bullying his mother and driving his flashy sports car up and down the street, thinking he’s landed on his feet when Gerald hands over the reins of the factory.  I felt like a curtain twitcher as I peeped into the lives of the residents of Ophelia Street and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to satisfy my curiosity.

There are some other residents but the main characters were really brought to life and have stuck in my mind long after reading the final page.  I have to give a special mention to Mrs. Johnson’s pets - Timmy the cat and Joey the budgie who don’t escape Robert’s bullying.

I loved the way the book was split into seasons and watching the way the street changed over the year – the introduction of the offenders hostel, the factory closure and the murder of little Elaine Card.  People might feel cheated that the murderer isn’t identified, but I felt all the clues were there as I interpreted the child’s sock as a trophy.  I actually thought there might have been another murder - I thought Selene would end up putting arsenic in Gerald’s whiskey!

I really liked this book – I’ve been talking about it since I finished it.  It’s a year in the life of Ophelia Street as the leaves change from green to gold before finally losing hold and tumbling to the ground.  There’s murder, suicide, death, divorce and new beginnings - what more could we ask for?

Thank you to Urbane Publications for allowing me to read this book before publication.

Preorder now from Amazon.co.uk - released 30 June 2015

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