Read Canvey Island by James Runcie Free Online
Book Title: Canvey Island|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.58 MB
v The author of the book: James Runcie
Date of issue: 2007
ISBN 13: 9780747585831
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books Canvey Island:James Runcie’s Canvey Island is a quiet, thoughtful work of fiction that shows how the character of average people is shaped by the most difficult circumstances of their lives, much like the British coastline, which his protagonist tries so desperately to preserve, is inevitably worn away by the ravages of the sea.
As a young boy, Martin witnesses his beloved mother’s death by drowning in a terrible flood on their island home. His father Len, in the meantime, is out dancing on the mainland with Martin’s floozy aunt Violet and her husband George, a man who lost his sanity during a grisly battle in WWII. As an adult, Martin becomes a water engineer, studying England's rugged shore in hopes of understanding, containing and controlling the very sort of catastrophe that took his mother from him.
The book is written in short chapters narrated by all the principle characters – Martin, Len, Violet and George, as well as the two women in Martin's life - his first love, Linda, and his wife, Claire. It’s an ingenius method of storytelling that allows readers to get everyone’s viewpoint, and in their own words. And while some characters, most notably Aunt Violet, at the outset seem irredeemable, by the end of the book their rough edges are worn as smooth as the sea stones lovingly collected by art student Linda. They are like the malleable shoreline continually battered by the relentless seas, victims of their own experiences and, as their past is revealed to us, the characters become more human, easier to understand, somewhat likeable and, in certain respects, even quite valiant.
Some critics were exasperated by the protagonist Martin because they found him to be too passive. For me, this was a large part of the book’s fascination and most certainly its main point - that humans, by our very nature, are reactive more often than we are proactive. Martin, like the other characters, has been shaped by the events of his life. And his attempts to break free prove mostly futile. Particularly in light of the fact that what he's trying to escape is the inevitability of decay and death. After his wife, Claire, goes off on a lengthy, women-only protest against the installation of missiles silos in the UK, he drifts back into an affair with Linda, his high school sweetheart. But ultimately, he hasn’t the fortitude to choose between the women and instead takes the path of least resistance, breaking Linda’s heart once more. A similar choice, we later learn, to the one made by his Aunt Violet so many years earlier.
Runcie has created a loving portrait of post-war England and her people, worn down after the battering of WWII. As the story progresses, and he slowly reveals their secrets, each of his characters acquires the burnish and richness of authenticity and all of them win our sympathies utterly. A truly rewarding read.
Read information about the authorJames Runcie is a British novelist, documentary film-maker, television producer, theatre director, and Artistic Director of the Bath Literature Festival.
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