Wednesday 16 November 2016

Book Review: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

Title: Pond
Author: Claire-Louise Bennett
Publisher: Picador Australia 
Publication Date: 22 December 2016
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback 
Genre: Literary Fiction 
Source: ARC from Publisher

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Bennett's debut is a slim volume that eschews traditional narrative conventions. It may be read as 20 interlinked stories or as a novella fractured into 20 parts, all narrated by a nameless woman living in a small cottage in rural Ireland. Instead of relating a straightforward narrative she progresses via digression: celebrating the arrangement of fruits and vegetables in bowls on the window-sill, lamenting the broken knobs on her kitchen's mini-stove, pondering the deeper meaning of a novel about the last woman on Earth, recalling past sexual misadventures and experiments in gardening plots. Gradually revealed is a picture of a young woman of uncommon intelligence who has left her adult responsibilities in the hope of recovering some more enchanting relation of self to world. The result is a series of tableau's - funny, acute, melancholy, misanthropic - whose charm and beauty lays in their oblique angle of approach. (Goodreads Synopsis)

Pond is an enchanting work that can be read in a single sitting or story-by-story. As stated in the blurb, the reader can take the stories either as individual vignettes or as part of a longer narrative about the main character's life. Whichever your preference, they offer delightful insight into how we think and how we relate to the world around us. As I read, I often found myself thinking, "Yes, exactly." It's been a while since I read any stream-of-consciousness prose - not since before I became an editor - and at first I got stuck wanting to correct grammar. However, once I got used to the prose style, all was fine and the narrator sucked me into her world. With beautiful imagery and ideas, Pond is the perfect book for those who like to contemplate as they read.

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