Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Catching the Sun - Tony Parsons

This book has had some very mixed reviews – it was very heavily marketed when first published, and I heard the author talking about it so often that I almost felt I’d already read it. But I thought the criticisms were unfair, and might have more to do with the reader’s expectations than the quality of the read. 

The story itself is a relatively straightforward one: disillusioned with life in the UK, and after a brush with the law while protecting his family, Tom transplants his young family to Hat Nai Yang in Thailand, where he works as a driver for a company dealing in dodgy property deals. We live through their experience of making a fresh start. 

They live through the tsunami – described in a stark, matter of fact way that makes it all the more moving – and we gain real insight into Thailand’s burgeoning bar and sex trade, the seamy side of the business world, and the efforts to conserve the environment.  The contrast between the beauty of the country and the corrupt underbelly is extremely well drawn: there are a number of images in the book that will long stay with me, and the author’s descriptions have the quality of a well-lit photograph.  

I liked the relationship between the family and their Thai neighbours, the Botans, which produces moments of touching humour: insights into the lives of other subsidiary characters are equally well done, and anyone familiar with Thailand or the ex-pat community in other Eastern countries will find much that’s recognisable and real.

Despite the cover, this isn’t really isn’t a holiday read – there’s too much ugliness here for that. But there’s also real beauty, and the author really convinces that he loves this fascinating country despite its many faults and shortcomings.

Reviewed by Anne Williams - guest reviewer

Thanks very much indeed to Anne for reading and reviewing this novel for The Little Reader Library, and for writing an insightful and balanced review. Anne is a very keen reader who I met via the ReaditSwapit website, she writes reviews as part of the amazon vine programme and I always enjoy reading her thoughts on what she has read. 

'Catching the Sun' is published by HarperCollins
You can follow the author on twitter @TonyParsonsUK 
Thanks to the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this novel to read and review.

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