This author studied at the same university as me. Not the same degree – I studied digital communications, not creative writing – but that’s still cool. A small world to find a New Zealand author publishing a fiction novel.
With the church of a small British village called Radley losing money, their library may be shutting down as a result. And in the middle of this village crisis are four people. First is William, a retired doctor and kind soul without history. He helps out Emily, who is in love with an abusive husband and retreats to her workplace at the library to find peace. Next door to William is Arlo and his son Marco, who is struggling to play London rent after not making enough sales as a real estate agent. And fourth is James, depressed and anxious as his father makes his life choices for him. To save the Radley library, together these four will first save themselves.
This book has got some triggering topics that are worth mentioning now: depression, anxiety, suicide, and sexual abuse, all described and playing parts in the narrative. If any of these trigger or upset you, this book isn’t for you. You’re okay to not read this review.
I loved all these characters and the perspectives they provided. Each one felt so real and so genuinely cared for that I cannot discern favourites, because each of them focussed on such real subjects, some of which I could relate to. And the ones that I couldn’t relate to were laced with such an incredible writing style that I would claim it as similar as Markus Zusak’s. How poetic the mundane and the normal was.
With contemporary novels being a big hit-or-miss for me, sometimes the conflicts or the plotlines don’t feel real enough. But each of these conflicts faced by the main characters were very much real and connected with each other very well. It didn’t feel Avengers-y where they all team up to solve a big issue, but the little impacts they make on each other when they meet it the beauty of this novel. It showcases them as individuals even when their POV voices are so unique and similar at the same time. As if I haven’t gushed enough about the writing style already. This is what really captures you when you read this novel.
My only complaint would be how abruptly the character arcs had finished. They did make sense, but in some cases it felt like they happened too soon. James’s plot, which focuses on mental health, is a strong example. It is framed that his mental health problems are “solved” by the end of the book, which in reality would not be. And then another character doesn’t have a POV chapter to solve their problems and finish their character arc, it is just in the background? I didn’t vibe with that.
I didn’t think I would vibe with this book when I saw a almost brand new copy of it in a second-hand book shop and bought it because it was cheap. But as soon as I read it, I knew I was glad to pick it up. And you should pick it up too.
The Liminal Space gets a score of 4/5. A strong writing style foundation with fantastic characters building it up.
Yours in writing