A Very Persistent Illusion by L C Tyler
|A Very Persistent Illusion by L C Tyler|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Thought-provoking, blackly humorous and with characters who stay with you long after you finish the book, this is highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: March 2009|
|Publisher: Macmillan New Writing|
|External links: Author's website|
Chris Sorensen is the inventor (well, co-inventor) of the Sorensen-Birtwistle Revised Scale of Girl Rage which he believes will one day take its deserved place alongside other scales which measure danger. It's his main claim to fame and one of the ways by which he keeps his girlfriend, Virginia, at arm's length. Her parents are jovial old coves and all things considered, the leaking roof on his classic sports car and the possibility that he might be heading towards marriage seem to be his only problems. Well, apart from the fact that he's not exactly certain that other people exist.
Meanwhile, well roughly three hundred years ago give or take a decade or so, a French philosopher struggles with the privations of an inn on the Danube. He's pondering on reality and the existence (or otherwise) of God, ably assisted by a waiter with a neat turn of phrase, some dubious food and more than a passing interest in what Descartes is saying.
All might have continued in this manner, (well, Descartes possibly would not have done, given the time lapse), but it was the death of Virginia's father which provoked her mother into making a rather indiscreet revelation about her father or her Dad. Well, if you read the book you'll see exactly what I mean. In a story which takes in Horsham, Grasmere, a Royal Society and a young lady whose sole purpose in life seems to be to wear short skirts and tight sweaters, you'll find that you've almost, but not quite got a grip on reality.
I loved this book. I laughed out loud, despite the fact that black humour is not usually my thing. I cried in a tears-running-down-face-and-sniffles way and I hated getting to the end. The plot is worthy of Agatha Christie at her best as Chris and Virginia set out to discover exactly what Hugh (one of the jovial old coves) had been up to. It's one of those plots which seem to be quite straightforward until you really think about it and then the skill with which it's been crafted is evident. There's layer upon layer, neatly bonded together.
I loved Chris, the man-boy skilled at avoidance and not wearing socks but with psychological trauma and guilt stacked against him. It's impossible not to be carried along by his view of the world and equally impossible not to be moved by his misjudgements. Virginia has hidden depths – and shallows – and turns out to be so much more (or less) than you expected. Every character in the book comes off the page fully-formed and even the cameo parts stick in your mind.
It's a thought-provoking book which highlights that very thin and fragile line between sanity and madness, the nature of families and the meaning of life. Oh – and reality.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to the Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Very Persistent Illusion by L C Tyler at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Very Persistent Illusion by L C Tyler at Amazon.com.
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