The Many by Wyl Menmuir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Looking to buy a second home in Cornwall, Timothy finds a house in a fishing village. The first time the rest of the village realise that there is someone present in the house is when smoke drifts from the chimney. The previous owner, Perran, died mysteriously 10 years earlier and the house has sat empty ever since, but his dominant character still haunts the village.
Quite why Timothy has bought the house in this village is not clear; it is far from a welcoming place and the sea is heavily polluted as he finds out one day after emerging after a swim. More sinister though is the barrier of huge container ships that stop the fishermen from venturing too far out., and the grey-suited officials that buy the meagre catch from the fishermen of the village.
The fragile equilibrium that has existed since the death of Perran is under threat though as Timothy has lots of questions. He wants to take a trip out in the boats to see what they catch, to head to the ships that crowd the horizon to see why they are there and to find out what happened to Perran. These are questions that no one in the village wants asked, and they really don't want a stranger asking them.
Menmuir has taken a county normally associated with holidays, sunshine and cream teas and dropped a disconcerting and unsettling novel on it. This dystopian future of a coastal setting is quite disturbing, there is the environmental catastrophe, the Orwellian overtones and a secret that the villagers will not speak of. The tension between Timothy and the villagers is palpable, how can an outsider come and demand answers to questions that they have no wish to talk about. Menmuir's writing is quite special, the prose taught and sparse, but for me, it left many questions unanswered as the narrative swirled between reality and the flashbacks. I did like it, but I felt that the I wasn't always sure what is going on. One to read again as I am sure there are hidden depths within.
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