A is for Angelica by Iain Broome
Gordon and Georgina Kingdom spent years being like many other couples. They had jobs, friends, holidays, a springer spaniel named Kipling and a life together. Then Georgina became ill and Gordon took early retirement to nurse her better. He treats retirement with the same methodical efficiency he employed at work. He records Georgina's care, her progress and shares her waking moments, feeding her and sitting with her. However, as she spends a lot of time asleep, Gordon is left to entertain himself and so, the same man who led the local Neighbourhood Watch, watches his neighbours, noting points of interest and visible activities in alphabetically filed dossiers. They're all there: Don across the road who borrows garden tools on a more permanent basis than Gordon would like, art award winner young Benny who paints with his eyes shut, the lady next door who throws footballs over the fence and the new woman across the road, Angelica. Except, when Angelica moves into the street, Gordon's interest becomes more focused than usual.
|A is for Angelica by Iain Broome|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: This is a touching, funny, original novel that'll cause you to ricochet between unbridled glee and sadness. Indeed, you'll laugh till your heart breaks.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: September 2012|
|Publisher: Legend Press|
|External links: Author's website|
This year I've encountered three people (using the term loosely) who make me emotional whenever I remember them. The first is Harold Fry, the second a platypus called Albert and the third is Gordon Kingdom. This is odd as Gordon should be considered just plain creepy, spying on his neighbours and practicing administrative OCD whilst his wife sleeps partially paralysed in the next room. However, such is the author's talent that, by the end of the novel, you may not agree with Gordon but you'll have warmed to him enough to understand. In fact this, Iain Broome's debut novel, is an emotional twister that's so good you won't mind your feelings being manipulated as you won't see it coming.
For those who remember BBCTV's Ever Decreasing Circles, Gordon's a more developed (and just as comedic) Martin. He wants desperately to develop friendships with those living in Cressington Vale but is hampered by repressed feelings and stiff-upper-lip syndrome so that his watching almost becomes an attempt to befriend them vicariously.
We learn of Georgina and their pre-illness life together via Gordon's memories, through which we also view the one constant that remains despite her dilapidated state: love. In spite of all Gordon and Georgina went through with their parents, the attendant rumours and consequential hardship, the depth of their affection for each other remains. However, this love also causes Gordon's denial, inability to deal with life and loneliness.
Don't be disheartened though as Iain Broome ensures this is no dirge of a book and gives us permission to laugh, furnishing Gordon's own narrative (told in chapters starting with sequential letters of the alphabet, naturally) with some hilarious isolated sentences and, indeed, entire scenes. I snorted a fine film of coffee over my shirt when reading about the toileting of Kipling, Gordon's description of Dr Morris is also priceless and then there's the one about the conservatory. In contrast there's one page that is effectively a literary stomach punch, so much so that I read the lines twice in order to absorb what I couldn't take in first time.
This is an easy book to sum up. Basically, if you don't laugh and cry over A is for Angelica in almost equal measures then bears don't deposit their personal waste in wooded areas and I'll only read this book once.
I would like to thank Legend Press for providing Bookbag with a copy of this book for review.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A is for Angelica by Iain Broome at Amazon.com.
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