Friday, 4 November 2011

Looking for the Possible Dance

Title: Looking for the Possible Dance

Author: AL Kennedy

Number of pages: 250

Started: 29 October 2011

Finished: 4 November 2011

Opening words:

Everything else is a waste of time. Do you hear me? Everything else is a waster of time. You hear me, Margaret? You understand?
Margaret was outside in the night, standing behind the Methodist Church Hall. Her ears, numbed after hours of music, were rushing with the sudden quiet, as if she had just dipped her head inside a sea-shell, or a big tin box. Margaret’s father was sitting on two empty beer crates, breathing in and out enormously, his legs extended flat ahead of him and both his hands folded, hotly, round one of her wrists.

Plot summary:

Mary Margaret Hamilton was educated in Scotland. She was born there too. These may not have been the best possible options, but they were the only ones on offer at the time. Although her father did his best, her knowledge of life is perhaps a little incomplete. Margaret knows the best way to look at the moon, how to wake on time and how to breathe fire. Now she must learn how to live. A. L. Kennedy's absorbing, moving and gently political first novel dissects the intricate difficulties of human relationships, from Margaret's passionate attachment to her father and her more problematic involvement with Colin, her lover, to the wider social relations between pupil and teacher, employer and employee, individual and state.

What I thought:

I had really wanted to read this book, so was pleased when I finally acquired a copy. However, it didn’t live up to my hopes. It was well written and was very readable, but it felt a bit too much like a “kitchen sink” drama and never really rose above the mundanity of life. To a degree, perhaps that was part of what the book was about, but for me it just didn’t fulfil its potential and I never truly empathised with the characters. A decent enough read, but never really seemed to achieve that extra element that would have made the novel truly engaging.

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