Deep Down: the 'intimate, emotional and witty' 2023 debut you don't want to miss

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Deep Down: the 'intimate, emotional and witty' 2023 debut you don't want to miss

Deep Down: the 'intimate, emotional and witty' 2023 debut you don't want to miss

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I think if these lengthy descriptions of inane journeys had instead been used as deep dives into character psyches I would have felt more connected to Billie and Tom. A slow burn portrayal of how families can pull us apart but also how two siblings can find their way back to each other and to themselves. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. DEEP DOWN is a beautifully constructed and unnervingly assured debut which deeply moved and impressed me. Both are drifting, distant from each other and their mother, until this death shakes to the foundation the defences they have built over the years against the violence of their family history.

For me, the highlights of this book were the Paris location and the friends and family who surround Billie and Tom - they brought joy and lightness where there wasn’t much.What West-Knights does so effectively here is to make no distinction between past and present; incidents from childhood are related in the same continuous present tense as the current events in Paris, with nothing so clunky as dates or chapter headings to mark the switch. In one finely wrought section during a family holiday to Spain, 13-year-old Tom is privy to an awful altercation between his parents in the supermarket. While tempers escalate, all Tom wants are “ice creams in the shape of Sonic the Hedgehog … Not only do they look awesome but he imagines they probably turn your tongue and lips blue, which will be a lot of fun because he can lie on the ground and pretend that he’s died.

Tom, the elder, is working there in an English-themed pub, avoiding the failure of his acting career (“not knowing what he is doing in Paris feels more productive than not knowing at home”). Imogen West Knights reveals family silence and repression in a way which feels almost agonisingly true to life.I just wish it was easier to follow and that we got to know the characters even better so that those moments held more weight. The story is about Tom and Billie, they have both had a bereavement in the family and seeing as they both are so far away from each other they decide to reconnect and hope that being together will help with the grief.

They are repairing the scenery, rebuilding the set on which their performance of normal life takes place. And the novel is a serious and very accomplished examination of what it means to love and grieve for someone who might seem unlovable. This is a tender story about families and how you need them to cope through some of the worse possible times of your lives.

West-Knights takes the tradition of the British family novel - with all its resentment, over-drinking and passive aggression - and transcends it: Deep Down is funny, sad, tender and hopeful. Such crispness could have given the narrative a slightly sneering edge, but West-Knights’ quiet focus on the vulnerability of her lead characters grounds the novel in a more humane place. Away from the ‘tourist bit’ of the catacombs – the part filled with bones moved from the city’s cemeteries – is an extensive network of claustrophobic pathways beneath the everyday, visible level of the city.

It should be a time to comfort each other, but there's always been a distance to their relationship.

When the narrative loops back to the protagonists’ earlier lives, her observations of the nine to five are hilariously unforgiving: “At work, Billie spends most of her time with Martin, her direct superior, a lumpy man of about forty-five with back problems that he refers to as often as possible. Some of the feelings around loss were recognisable and easy to relate to, but this is different in a lot of ways because of their past. Millenials philosophising about mundane things while roaming around the streets of Paris and surviving on bread and water.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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