Walking to the Moon by Kate Cole-Adams

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Walking to the Moon by Kate Cole-Adams

Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This debut novel is one emotional roller-coaster from start to finish, for a young mother called Jessica. She's trying to regain her life after a spell in hospital and the emphasis is very much on the trying ...
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: January 2010
Publisher: Quercus Publishing plc
ISBN: 978-1849161343

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We meet the main character Jessica, or Jess as she is usually called, deep in an emotional black hole. She can see no light at the end of the tunnel. And right from the start, right from page one, we have a sense of the beautiful and poetic language of Cole-Adams. Time and I have a new arrangement. We leave each other alone. And indeed time is not important in this novel. We have all the time in the world would probably be the motto of the medical staff - if they had one.

The location is a nursing home in the Sydney suburbs. The medical staff allow the patients - most of whom are elderly and have had strokes - to fill in their days in their own ways, at their own pace. There's also a strong sense of the 'de-humanising' effect. Many people say that they lose their identity during their spell in hospital. So, in Jess's nursing home there's room thirteen stroke or bedpan in eight.

So, what is a young mother doing here? In a place like this. She's like a fish out of water. Or is she? Cole-Adams gives us plenty of descriptive passages about the patients, their family members, their idiosyncratic tendencies. For example, She came to see me at the nursing home once after I woke up. She wore her red lipstick and her shiny black boots with zips up the sides. You get a sense that you're eavesdropping on their private grief, their lost lives. And what about Jess's lost life? To complicate matters, there are differing medical views but bit by bit, almost drip-fed, the pieces unravel slowly. It's as if this 'something', this cataclysmic event has resulted in Jess rolling herself up like a hedgehog for protection, or self-preservation, or perhaps a bit of both. As if her body has suddenly 'crashed' like a computer. All the precious information has not been saved. Most of it has been deleted.

The novel's pace is deliberately slow, in rhythm with Jess's recovery. You feel as if you are not so much walking to the moon but walking through treacle. On particularly bad days Jess can retreat to her room for days, shunning any human company. But paradoxically, she says ... I am bored. I am bored with sickness ... And her overall fatigue is all-encompassing. It's almost as if she's too tired to breathe.

When Jess feels well enough - and with medical permission, she takes herself off for a few days. Destination unknown. And yes, it is very much the cliched 'to find herself.' By degrees she pieces together her past; the people, the events, the feelings and non-feelings and comes to her own particular conclusion.

This novel is all about delving into the past, trying to understand it, in order to live for the present and ultimately the future. In Jess's case, the reader is presented with vast tracts of her previous life - we take the journey with her, we almost hold her hand. She has re-emerged almost from death. I think the subliminal message here is that we cannot alter the past, but we can make choices for our present and for our future. A thought-provoking novel.

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

If this book appeals then we can recommend Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk.

Buy Walking to the Moon by Kate Cole-Adams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Walking to the Moon by Kate Cole-Adams at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Walking to the Moon by Kate Cole-Adams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Walking to the Moon by Kate Cole-Adams at Amazon.com.


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