Just Looking by Matthew Tree

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Just Looking by Matthew Tree

Buy Just Looking by Matthew Tree at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: You'll start by feeling slightly uneasy. Then you'll wonder if history is repeating itself. THEN you'll realise that we don't learn the lessons history teaches us. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 369 Date: December 2022
Publisher: Independently Published
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-8366659079

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It was the summer of 2035 and on a cruise ship in Marseilles, Jim was celebrating his new-found wealth and the end of his marriage - not two celebrations generally found in the same sentence by a man! He's watching the tornado - they're more common in Europe these days - that's keeping the cruise ship in port and falls into conversation with Jean-Pierre, a French journalist in his thirties. He writes for a relatively new paper, the right-wing La Tribune Gauloise and he's interesting if a little wordy on subjects such as the difference between 'France' and 'the French'. His partner, Helen, who's English and Jewish, keeps him in check to some extent.

There's a fourth member of the group and that's Raluca, a Romanian student on board to study cruise-ship passengers. It's not long before she and Jim take to studying each other a little more intimately although Jim can't really understand what she sees in him. She's young and attractive. He's middle-aged and far too fond of the drink for his own good. Conversations about the emergence of a new political movement Nous Sommes La France persuade Raluca to change the subject of her thesis. NSLF is led by Célestine Buchard. The group's views might put you in mind of the Le Pens of a couple of decades before but the Le Pens are now considered far too moderate.

The subject of immigration always seems to touch a nerve, even the nerves of those not directly affected by the immigrants And so it proved to be when the subject of the Mashubians came up. No - I'd never heard of them either but that's the point: they're groups of people from obscure places in eastern Europe such as the borders of Ukraine and Belarus. Until La Tribune Gauloise broke the story, few people had realised that hundreds of these migrants were invading villages in France, effectively setting up communes and disrupting village life. Something had to be done. It wasn't just the Mashubians, either: there were the Mordvins, Udmurts and the Vespians, all of them endogamous. If you don't know what that means, think about what royal families used to be like - they married within their own tribes.

I'm not going to tell you any more about the plot as you really need to read this for yourself. I began by feeling slightly uneasy but I'd read Matthew Tree before and I knew that I was in safe hands. Then I began to realise that some of the connections my mind was making weren't coincidental. History, it seemed was repeating itself and we were incapable of learning the lessons it had taught us. Then I thought back over recent events and wondered if the story was entirely fictional or if we were well down the slippery slope.

I hope that I'm not making the book sound as though it's hard work and educational because it's anything but. It's an extremely good - and all-too-believable - story. The characterisation is extremely good: no one is entirely likeable but then so few of us are - but they're all entirely relateable and I turned the final page far more quickly than I expected.

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

If you'd like to see more of Tree's work, have a look at If Only.

You can read more about Matthew Tree here.

Booklists.jpg Just Looking by Matthew Tree is in the Top Ten Self-Published Books 2023.

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Buy Just Looking by Matthew Tree at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Just Looking by Matthew Tree at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Just Looking by Matthew Tree at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Just Looking by Matthew Tree at Amazon.com.


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