As much as I love mysteries, I seem to have been reading quite a lot of them lately. Some have been darker than others, but there is only so much murder and mayhem a person can take before a little diversion is necessary. I certainly got a diversion with the shenanigans in Happy Valley, but now something a little more quiet and thoughtful is what I need. It's thanks to Litlove that I have crossed paths with William Nicholson's The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life, which seems to have been published here in the US this past summer without much fanfare.
I started reading yesterday and have fallen very easily into the story, which I think is just what I need a the moment. It begins with Laura Broad receiving a letter from a former love, which starts her wondering what life would have been like had she stayed with him rather than become the mother and wife she is today. Laura lives in a little Sussex town and other residents have their say as well--each reflecting on their own lives. It seems nicely balanced moving from person to person, and though it's early days yet, I am happy to settle in with this one for the coming week.
My teaser is actually not from Laura's point of view. Instead her son's teacher is an aspiring screenwriter who seems to collect rejection slips for his plays. I like his dry sense of humor and his thoughts usually elicit a chuckle or two from me when he enters the scene. Taken out of context this probably won't be as funny, but you'll get a sense of Nicholson's writing style anyway. Alan Strachen is marking compositions here:
"Funny old room. The French windows rattle in the slightest breeze and the desks are never straight. Not that I care. At least there's a view over the playing field to the Downs. So, Alice Dickinson. My Journey.
My mother takes me in the car to the station were I catch the train to London were my father lives. he is always bisy so when I go to visit him its only for an hour really and all the rest of the time is my journey. my journey is not very interesting not like when mum comes in the train with me so I dont know what else to write. coming back on the train is just like going out on the train except all the stations happen backwards and sometimes its dark. if my mother is still at work my gramma meets me and so my journey is over.
Dear God why don't I shoot myself now? How can I go on living in this vale of unshed tears? No parent would ever send their child to school if they knew what they reveal daily, hourly, about their monotonous egotistical cruelties. Pretend not to notice. Correct the spelling, urge the use of capital letters, instil some sense of punctuation. And all the time before our eyes the hearts harden and the wonder dies."
Although I am not far yet into the story, I like how the connections between the varying characters are so subtly made. This seems to be a nice drama that is not overly dramatic and with a dash of humor.