Fiction set in USA and EUROPE: the life of Maria Callas
Novel set in North London (cross cultural involvement…)
21st August 2017
Blind Side by Jennie Ensor, novel set in North London.
This book came to fruition through Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that gives people the tools, support and freedom to bring their ideas to life. They are a small and growing team, based in the heart of London. So, Blind Side is an example of what they can do!
It is 2005. The close, platonic friendship between Georgie and Julian comes under huge strain once the dynamics have shifted. An intimate encounter leaves Georgie reeling, and Julian wondering how he can restore what they once had. It is a life lesson that what has happened cannot be undone and there is no going back. But how do you jointly and individually move forward from such a profound shift in dynamics? Georgie tries to maintain a balance, but Julian’s undying love – unreciprocated – means she has to take a step back.
In the aftermath Georgie finds herself drawn to Nikolai, an illegal Russian trying to make ends meet. He is fascinating, he is different and she falls for him on so many levels. But as their relationship deepens, she has misgivings – he was a Russian soldier engaged in the war in Chechnya and is in all likelihood still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He thrashes around in his sleep at night and there is just a hint of violence in his demeanour. Her friends urge caution, her beloved Father is clearly against their union, he would have preferred to see Georgie hitch up with Julian. Are people showing their mistrust because he is different, because he has friends who may be Muslim? How ever much she tries, Georgie struggles to ignore the niggling doubts.
Then the atrocities on 7th July take place in London that year and the reverberations from the awful bombings spread far and wide, further unsettling Georgie. Should she confront her beau, how should she handle the perceived racism he is suffering; in fact, is he all he seems? Can she trust her own intuition which tells her, at heart, he is a good man, but as she comes under pressure from so many other quarters, she begins to buckle.
I was very much caught up in the progression of the story. It made me realise how little any of us really can understand what it means to be caught up in a war situation, indeed what the thrust of the war between Chechnya and Russia was really all about. And that in itself is a sobering thought. It also highlights prejudices towards people from other, unfamiliar cultures and what they have to endure because of bigotry, but also because of fear – we can often feel fear at what we don’t understand, and that can often be expressed through harsh words and actions. And random acts of terror just capitalise and further undermine an already fragile balance……
North London is right there on the page, so it is great in terms of literary wanderlust.
It is a very good read, the ending for me, though, wasn’t quite as polished as the rest of the book, it felt a little fractured. An engrossing read overall.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
We talked earlier this year to Jennie about location in our #TalkingLocationWith.. series. Do check out our blogpost
Fancy more reads to transport you the heart of LONDON life, we have plenty to choose from over on our database!