Posted 20 hours ago

The Whale Tattoo

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Please note that your continued use of the Acast service will be deemed an acceptance of this update. There’s real intensity here- the first half of the novel takes place during a heatwave and as emotions simmer it reminded me of the Southern American work of authors such as William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams and I found myself having to remind myself that this was early 1950s Britain. These timeline jumps and disjointed narration did require some adjustment, and for me, hovered around the line between reader absorption and confusion, usually ending on the right side.

Through vivid dreamscapes and backstories, Joe's story emerges as one of love, lust, and loss, and a personal journey that ultimately leads to the path of acceptance and redemption. That restlessness that keeps you up all night, when the moon is as bright as a dinner plate licked clean, won’t last for ever. There’s such variety of sentence structure, an ebb and flow of past and present that mimics the tides against which the book is set, and an incredibly vivid and vital appeal to the senses that at times it’s almost unbearable to read.And when one day, standing like an idiot staring through the glass that’s covered in clouds galloping across the sky behind, you’ll get an idea. I COULD NOT put this book down once I decided to start reading it, each page that turned, drew me further into the story.

These lessons that come again and again, like wild weather busting in from the Wash, getting beneath your skin.There’s quite a lot of gay sex scenes throughout the novel the scenes are graphic at times but in no way voyeuristic I felt that they were vital to developing the tone of the story and to understanding the characters and their motivation. Joe talks to the water, and the water answers, but the prose is filled with descriptions of the salt marshes and the dykes, the river and the sea, and the trawlers bringing home the shellfish catch. Then as the sea settles and Joe learns the truth about the river and finds that we all have the capability to hate, and that we can all make the choice not to. By night it makes him pi*s the bed, by day it is there yipping from the bank, filling his head with rubbish, warning him to give Fysh up. The first of the books I had highlighted as a must-read for 2024 was very nearly my first five star rating of the year.

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