The Bear by Claire Cameron

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The Bear by Claire Cameron

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Based loosely on a real event, Claire Cameron writes an absorbing and upsetting tale in 'The Bear'. A quick read, the narration is the thing that will make you either love or hate this book.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780099581468

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Canadian Claire Cameron was working as a counsellor at Algonquin Park in the early 90's, when a bear attacked and killed two campers. Here, Cameron revisits and re imagines the attack, but gives the campers two children, and tells the story from the perspective of the daughter, Anna.

It's an interesting choice. The young, innocent, stream-of- consciousness narrative is something I have found immensely irritating in the past - Room by Emma Donoghue is one example I found particularly hard to read. Here, it works and it doesn't. The description of the initial attack is horrific, visceral, and confusing, and this is down to the voice of the narrator. In fact, it's very hard not to read it and want to explain to the girl exactly what is happening - the moment she finds her father's severed leg is particularly uncomfortable to read, and rightly so.

As the story goes on though, I really began to wish for a more sophisticated narrative, and I believe that perhaps held me back from enjoying the book as much as I could have.

However, the story certainly does grip - this is undeniably a page turner. The tale of 'two innocents lost in the woods' is one as old as time, but Cameron works hard to keep the threats very real indeed, and it's impossible not to be rooting for the two children to make it. The final quarter of the book is somewhat slower and more reflective - which again for me would have been an easier read had the narrative voice been somewhat more mature.

'The Bear' is undoubtedly a well-told story - but the childlike narrative meant I found it genuinely hard to stick with. I do believe that with this book it's just a matter of taste - it is well written, and I feel that a lot of people will enjoy it greatly.

Many thanks to Vintage for the copy

Well, if you enjoy this a lot, you probably will enjoy Room by Emma Donoghue, which combines a tense plot with a childlike narrative. Another example of a book that tells things from a younger viewpoint is The Other Hand by Chris Cleave - which takes it's characters to some very unexpected places, and is a gripping read.

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Buy The Bear by Claire Cameron at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Bear by Claire Cameron at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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