Disclaimer - Renee Knight

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Disclaimer - Renee Knight

Post by Graham on Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:18 pm

Like Hollinghurst’s Line of Beauty this did not do what it said on the tin: ‘fiendishly clever’, ‘unbearably tense’. Unlike Hollinghurst it is a quick read and you will not need a dictionary to hand. The comparisons stayed in my head all the way through. Knight’s language is unadorned. Whole passages go by with hardly an adjective. There is no nuanced elucidation of thoughts and motivations. Just as well because the plot (another difference) is convoluted.

It concerns Catherine Ravenscroft, a successful documentary maker (as was Knight) with an, on the surface, perfect family. This domesticity is shattered by the arrival of a book which seems to lay bare a devastating secret from her past in the guise of fiction. This setup is highly improbable but once swallowed the rest of it slides past unalarmingly. There are several sides to this story and Knight tells two of them in parallel, Catherine’s and that of the book’s author. She also flips back and forth between the original incident ten years previously and the working out of the author’s intent. Knight handles this skilfully and convincingly but it is this structure that denudes the story of any tension. Even though she drip feeds the details and keeps a few twists in store I found it very ordinary with no heart stopping moments.

Knight can be admired for picking at the dark corners of these lives that could be yours or mine and that may explain the book’s popularity, but I want something more.

Verdict: perfect for between snoozes on a Mediterranean beach but do watch out for that young man with the camera eyeing you up.

Graham
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