Elmet by Fiona Mozley, has been shortlisted for 2017 Man Booker Prize.
The story takes place in Elmet, which was the last Celtic Kingdom.
14 year old Daniel and 15 year old Cathy are siblings and they live with their ‘Daddy’ in a house that he literally built himself. Life is relatively simple for these people. They keep to themselves and eat what they hunt. Daniel enjoys household chores and Cathy is the one for adventures. Their father’s name is John and he has been described as a man of gargantuan built who earns money by fighting. To Daniel and Cathy, John is nothing more than ‘Daddy’ even though he is very well known as a formidable fighter in his own circles. This points to one central theme in the story that a parent is always gentle and loving towards his own children no matter what his conduct might be otherwise.
The story has been narrated by Daniel and the book has been written with a lyrical simplicity. The value of family is a recurring theme in the story as the reader gets to read the descriptions of the of the daily lives of Daniel and Cathy living with their ‘Daddy’ in the copse. Although, John or Daddy is a fighter, he is a loving father and values his children more than anything else and despite having opposite dispositions, Cathy and Daniel complete each other in a way only siblings can.
The story has a very “the quiet before a storm” kind of a vibe where as a reader I sensed approaching danger that might shake the world of these three characters. This was especially unsettling for me because I had started getting attached to these three people because all three of them together, represented a secure unit.
This book is definitely a page turner though it still took me longer to finish than I had expected. The reason for that was that the air of approaching paradox slowed my reading speed because I just wanted to read about the happy life of Daniel, Cathy and their Daddy.
The lust for power and the desire to control the lives of other people often leads to destructive consequences. The diabolical urge to cause misery to those with a weaker social standing is a vice that forms the part of many people’s character. Elmet, very shatteringly tells one such story where innocent people pay the price for the monstrosity of such people.
A book that showcases the disquieting reality of the society and unmasks its ugly truth as the story unfolds, Elmet is a riveting read.
My Rating – 4/5 stars.
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