Mr Magenta by Christopher Bowden

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Mr Magenta by Christopher Bowden

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A finely drawn tale in which Stephen finds his late aunt had a more mysterious life than he had ever imagined. In his search to find the truth behind her secrets, he comes to understand not only Aunt Flora better, but himself as well.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 174 Date: September 2022
Publisher: Amolibros
ISBN: 978-0955506765

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Stephen Marling thought he knew his aunt Flora. But when he inherits her house in a quiet south London square a series of discoveries among her papers brings to light another person entirely. Who, for example, is "Mr Magenta", and what part did he play in her life?

Christopher Bowden's latest novel is a patient untangling of a seemingly ordinary woman's life, carried out by her nephew after she has died. The aunt who always provided a safe harbour and a little bit of indulgence to a young nephew had had a much more interesting life than that nephew Stephen had ever realised and it seems to him an obligation to find it all out. A rite of passage on her passing, as it were. Stephen has an awkward relationship with his parents but it had never felt like that with Flora and so he feels as though he owes her his understanding.

What he doesn't expect is that his patient process of uncovering Flora's secrets will show him the way forward in his own life. Bubbling under the surface of the main theme of uncovering Flora's past is the theme of Stephen's future and especially the future of his intense relationship with Nancy, the woman he left behind in New York when Flora died.

As ever, Bowden has written a thoughtful and introspective novel here, with a real writer's awareness for the intimate details in people's lives - the ones that feel ordinary and everyday but are often deeply meaningful and pivotal to paths taken and not taken. The narrative runs through the present in London, the recent past in New York, and the further back in Marseilles. A love of books and acting and performance permeates every page, which is deeply appealing to a book lover like me. Like Flora, I scribble trenchant comments in my books.

There is a good cast of well-rounded characters and Stephen is a patient and reflective investigator so we have plenty of time to savour the noirish aspects of the mystery of Mr Magenta and why he was such a significant character in Flora's life and both the joys and sadnesses that filled it. I don't want to say too much more because Mr Magenta is a book that's best read by readers with a blank slate. Suffice it to say that the direction of travel is very often the one you least expect.

Absorbing, interesting, and with plenty of twists and turns to keep interest levels up, Mr Magenta is a fine read, up to the standards we have come to expect from Christopher Bowden. 


You might also enjoy The Purple Shadow, also by Bowden, which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Bookinterviews.jpg Christopher Bowden was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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Buy Mr Magenta by Christopher Bowden at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Magenta by Christopher Bowden at


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