Far North by Marcel Theroux

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Far North by Marcel Theroux

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A brilliant story with epic feel, featuring a lonely constable in distant, snowy realms. I felt right there with all the narrative, and can only recommend this strongly.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: March 2009
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571237777

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This is the far North. Up here, for ten months a year, the weather has teeth in it. It is a world where it is far easier to travel in the winter, as all the boggy countryside formed from snowmelt is still frozen. It's a land where you make your own bullets, and might have days and nights (when there are nights) with only the lovely northern lights for company. You should avoid, however, the whisper of angels, which sounds equally lovely but is your last gasp leaving your frozen body.

This is Evangeline, the town in the middle of nowhere and nothing. A frozen town, large enough for 30,000 but with room enough for millions more in any direction you choose to look. It's a hardship township, but all the same shouldn't really need a police force. But there is, and we have one constable in particular to concentrate on.

This is Makepeace.

This book is based on notebooks written long after the events they tell of, portraying Makepeace's friends, Makepeace's enemies, the huge space in between, and the huge spaces Makepeace's journey crosses. It's a lovely, clear and precise narration of a minor epic, told in a perfect, filmic way by a personable narrator.

This world is a scaly old snake. It was a world like a beaten horse, limping with old injuries, and set on throwing its rider. I didn't find such indecision a problem, in fact the proofs come across in the course of this novel brilliantly bring to Makepeace's notice evidence of just what kind of beast the world and mankind actually is. It also, in that it just balances on the edge of parable, or allegory, provides us with a most singular look at our world.

You might well start the book not knowing where you are, but the book both throws surprises at us and enfolds us in a truth of a most recognisable yet dramatic kind. Marcel Theroux has shown himself more than capable of continuing his family's good name with this novel, which I lapped up as quickly as I could. It couldn't receive the Hollywood treatment, for various reasons, but I saw everything so clearly I might have been there. Not that I would wish to for one minute, the realms of this book being so extreme.

There are the slightest of tinges of genre fiction about this, but they all fall by the wayside in creating a saga of such clarity, no little intelligence, and the highest of drama. I found nothing out of place, no detail of location or character that didn't ring true, and probably not a page that wasn't of very high quality. I have to recommend this to everyone.

We must thank Faber and Faber for our review copy.

We think people who enjoy this – which should be all – will get a lot out of Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay as well.

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Buy Far North by Marcel Theroux at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Far North by Marcel Theroux at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Far North by Marcel Theroux at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Far North by Marcel Theroux at Amazon.com.


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