Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton

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Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This beautifully presented novel centres around a handful of disparate characters living cheek-by-jowl in a rural backwater. A sinister event ties the fragile threads of community together.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2010
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
ISBN: 978-0224087650

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A tiny, rural community with a handful of characters is at the heart of this novel. And the thing that binds them all together is Deloume Road. Hooton gives over every chapter (and some are very short) to one of his characters - Irene, Andy, the butcher. Each is very different from the other.

It took me a little while to get into the flow. But once I'd 'met' the characters several times, I felt as if I knew them a little better. The location is sleepy, quiet and where life is lived very much in the slow lane. For the children in this novel, this can be frustrating; all this peace and quiet where nothing much happens - or does it?

Hooton spends a lot of time on descriptions. Detailed descriptions of nature in all her beauty. So the reader is told all about the local trees, the bird life, the insects, the cows etc. Hooton has a lovely descriptive style and as a result there are many lilting lines. For example, In the distance a woodpecker rattles off Morse code. and Lightning cracked open the black jar of night. The novel is set in high summer and the whole effect of all this descriptive text is almost soporific. It's a soothing, calm novel. You may think this an odd thing to say, but once you've read it, I think you may agree.

The butcher in this novel is Ukrainian. He's made the difficult decision to leave his family behind in search of a better life. He's like a square peg in a round hole. You could almost reach out and touch his loneliness. Not only that, but the locals don't appear to be particularly neighbourly. He says a few words to his customers but that's about it. No substitute for a decent conversation. He has to resort to rather unusual tactics.

Most of the locals living around Deloume Road are exactly that. Local. Local Canadian people. They don't seem to have the inclination to welcome others into the bosom of their community. And it shows. You can almost feel some of that tension. Hooton gives us plenty of tell-tale remarks which highlight lonely lives. It's heartbreaking, in a way.

The reader is also introduced to a cluster of small boys getting up to high jinks. But there's high jinks - and high jinks. The emptiness and futility of lives here comes up, time and time again. It could make you weep. Wending in and out of the different characters' stories is a parallel story written in the first person. It's different. It seems to grab you by the scruff of the neck. Hooton feeds us the story, drip by drip and keeps us in a constant state of suspense. It's a deft touch.

Hooton shares his knowledge of Korea with the reader via a character or two. While interesting, I felt that it was slightly mis-placed and altered the sleepy flow of the story. It was almost as if he was going to put in this information, regardless. Having said that I did like the line about Korean language when it was succinctly explained as It was so imposing with its hierarchies and six levels of politeness.

All this built-up suspense reaches its climax right at the very end of the story. An enigmatic and poetic novel.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might enjoy What It Takes To Be Human by Marilyn Bowering.

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Buy Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton at


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