A Kind of Vanishing by Lesley Thomson
|A Kind of Vanishing by Lesley Thomson|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This is a cut-above-the-average tale of a young girl gone missing. And of how the Ramsay household and the girl's parents cope with the event over the years.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: June 2007|
|Publisher: Myriad Editions|
The novel interweaves between the past (the 1960s) and the present (the 1990s). Thomson gives us the run-down on the two playmates, the two young girls, Eleanor Ramsay and Alice. They have been instructed by their respective parents to play together nicely. The Ramsay family is middle-class, they live in a big, rambling house and are always busy doing things. Alice is an only child of working-class parents. They are over-protective and monitor her every waking moment. Will a noisy tom-boy and an angelic Alice who wears impossibly shiny shoes get on, have things in common?
As the days roll by the girls like each other less and less. No one would guess however as they keep it all hidden from the parents. Till one day, they're playing hide-and-seek one minute and the next minute Alice simply disappears into thin air. But all is not what it seems ... And so Thomson takes the reader on a delicious but sad journey to try and find out exactly what happened to Alice. It's an uphill struggle. Details are hazy. Frustratingly, no one can prise information from Eleanor. Not the police, nor her parents. Has the innocent Alice been kidnapped, abducted or disappeared voluntarily? No one seems to know.
And Thomson has a beautiful and lilting style. It's rich in description and is so apt of the times. Some may think it a little flowery in places but I loved it all. She really brought her story alive. For example, there's a terrific piece when Eleanor is allowed to watch her beautiful mother dress and apply her make-up for a party. There are such exquisite lines as Her mother handled the brushes like an artist ...
Thomson cleverly matches Alice's disappearance with the death of Senator Robert Kennedy. Everyone remembers his untimely death but poor Alice is shoved to the back of peoples' minds. I found that both the girls came across on the page as authentic. Thomson understands the young beautifully. All their tiny little worries and flashes of funny little happy moments. You can also sense the fastidiousness of Alice and I got the whole unruliness and frankness of the carelessly well-off, as in the child character, Eleanor. Thomson exposes the chasm of the social classes wonderfully. When any of the parents meet neither really know what to say to the other. Excruciating in its honesty.
And Thomson builds up the tension. Is Alice still alive? Or dead? I really felt for the young Alice who was so desperate to be liked, to blend in. Her observation of the Ramsay family is bitter-sweet when she says ... Eleanor's family was constantly doing things. They were important people always expected somewhere ... I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was a treat to read. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals why not try Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn?
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