Longlisted for 2017 Man Booker Prize, Reservoir 13, centers around the theme “Life goes on”.Set in a quiet English village, the story begins with a search getting conducted to find a missing 13 year old girl. Her name is Rebecca or Becky or Bex.
The story unfolds over a course of 13 years as life falls back into rhythm once it is established that the girl isn’t being found and nobody has any idea about her whereabouts. Maybe she died or got kidnapped or ran away. No one knows.
This story, very gently, makes a point of letting the reader know that no matter how big the tragedy might be, people always move on. The impact of the tragedy stays with them where they think about it from time to time but that’s the extent of it.
You see, people cannot stop living their lives. Through a prose that moves at a leisurely pace, it has been conveyed, in a manner that penetrates, that no one is indispensable.
Initially, I was quite wowed by the beauty of the narrative. The writing is straightforward yet enchanting. The entire setting, of an English village along with its people gives a very mundane yet haunting vibe.
Mundane, because it’s a village and life is simple. People go about their tasks. New people move in and some of the residents move out. There is nothing seemingly out of ordinary. Haunting, because this is the very place where a 13 year old girl disappeared without a trace and even though life goes on, she remains in the memories and shows up in dreams of the people.
After the initial admiration and enjoyment, the story became a little too slow for keeping my active interest because after a certain point, I realized that as a reader, I am completely floored by books that have language and theme as impactful as this one but at the same time, it wouldn’t hurt for it to have something substantial happening apart from the routine lives of the villagers.
There is a huge cast of characters and multiple storylines going on at the same time which gives an insight into the lives of the villagers from time to time. Some characters are easy enough to understand and even relatable while others are an enigma. Each character gets to be in the forefront as well as the background from time to time. This is to say that this story is also largely character driven.
For me, this is a story with compelling writing highlighting a hard hitting truth and characters that are fleshed out so well that they are almost real but at the same time, I would have liked reading it more, had the pace been faster with some action taking place.
My Rating – 3.5/5 stars
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