Holding by Graham Norton
|Holding by Graham Norton|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: A warm, funny and quietly moving debut from presenter Graham Norton, Holding is packed full of Norton's trademark wit, and the years of chatting to people as a talk show host and agony aunt are put to good use in embuing the citizens of Duneen with a huge amount of humanity.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: October 2016|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
|External links: Author's website|
The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama, and yet the inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight, mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic, and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt her life a total waste. When human remains are discovered on a farm, thought to be those of Tommy Burke, an ex lover of both Brid and Evelyn, the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger, resentment, secrets, and regret.
Comedian, presenter, DJ, agony aunt, writer and occasional actor, Norton is clearly a man of many talents, but the first foray into fiction is always a tricky one. Where a few, like Dawn French and Stephen Fry have soared, many celebrities have written frankly dreadful debuts - just look at Morrisey's bizarre debut, or even Sylvester Stallone's very odd first novel. Thankfully, no such worries for Graham Norton - he's a skilled writer who clearly possess a huge amount of emotional intelligence, and puts it to good use here.
Norton's main strengths as a presenter have always been his wit, his warmth, and his ability to put guests at ease - his show is the only one where celebrities look vaguely comfortable to be there, even enjoying themselves. It's no surprise then, that he's a hugely empathic writer, creating characters who are layered and emotionally real, not just the caricatures of village figures that they could so easily have been. The plot too is a thoughtful thriller - it's a slow burner, but one that nevertheless had me racing through the pages towards the end of the book. The twists are clever, surprising, and always dealt with in a way that shows utmost respect to the circumstances of the characters.
A clever and carefully crafted debut, Norton explores the life of an Irish village in brilliant detail, with an emotional and thrilling story that keeps the reader gripped. It's well worth a read, and I have no doubt that it'll do very well - it's perhaps a debut that feels rather muted from a comedian known for his loud wit and shows with moments of campness, but the quiet, personal drama that he's chosen to focus on is very well written and drawn, and may well set Norton out for a new side career as a novelist. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
For further reading I'll recommend Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale. Much like Holding, it's a quietly moving character study, but one with real fire and passion at its heart.
Holding by Graham Norton is in the Top Ten General Fiction Books of 2016.
You can read more book reviews or buy Holding by Graham Norton at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Holding by Graham Norton at Amazon.com.
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