Review: Alison Gray’s Out of the Tower
Earlier in the year I reviewed Hibiscus Fruit, a detective novel by Alison Gray that I had a small issue with in the setting. I said then that I’d love to see Gray’s writing in a less sunshine place than a holiday island and felt her brilliant writing deserved something more bleak as a backdrop. Well, my wish came through as I opened my review folder and found Out of the Tower, her previous novel, waiting for me.
Jemima Forbes is seven when a mysterious event occurs and her father and uncle disappear from her life. She felt neglected by her mother and ignored by her father but she was close to her uncle. She spends her growing years obsessing about the disappearance of her uncle and when she is old enough, leaves home to try and find out what happened.
Just as I hoped for in my last review I was bowled over. No bright sunshine or holiday mystery here just a fantastic piece of writing that worked on all my emotions, sometimes simultaneously, and left me more than satisfied come the end. At the start of the book Jemima is the young child she is and Gray writes her as such, avoiding the temptation to explain what Jemima actually means which allows the reader to be transported back to the wonderment of childhood themselves as they grow and learn as Jemima does. This is a rare skill in modern literature, I cannot in fact remember the last author I read that could write a child so well and didn’t feel they needed to ‘grow her up’ so quickly.
It doesn’t matter the setting or situation what I get from Alison Gray is characters I can root for, characters I have empathy with, or characters that fascinate me. The dysfunctional family Jemima is raised in is a sad reality of life and isn’t overstated or underplayed, just written as naturally as looking through the window into a neighbour’s life. I think Gray could write anything if I’m honest but, with the added mystery of detection, her stories are incredibly well played out. Certainly an author I now read for pleasure as well as review material and unrivalled in her writing at this point in time.
***** 5 Stars!