Five Rivers Meet on a Wooded Plain - Barney Norris ****
Merrily Down The Stream
The opening chapter in this book belies what is to follow. And as I began the book I feared my interest would not be sustained throughout. For much as I admired the poetic prose in all its eloquence, at that point I couldn’t see where it was going or see how an entire novel could continue in this way.
But as the structure of the novel became apparent I appreciated the diversity of style. I liked the premise of the book which I guess is to say that we are all tributaries navigating into the great river of life.
I was impressed by how the seemingly disparate lives of five different people were linked through one event. And the narrative of each character was somehow constructed to convey the personality and temperament of that person. There is a certain skill in the rendering of fairly ordinary lives as interesting. These lives are cemented by an extraordinary event. I can say it’s a car crash as the blurb does detail the event so its not a spoiler.I liked the idea that the city of Salisbury was almost an additional character in the book.
For a debut novel this is a credible offering. This writer keenly observes people and their lives in a non judgmental way with a detached yet empathic demeanour.
I note Mr. Norris is also a playwright but I will be interested to see how he develops as novelist. If this first book is anything to go by then we are in for a treat.