Curtains by Drew Thomas
|Curtains by Drew Thomas|
|Genre: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Susmita Chatto|
|Summary: A cabaret star finds himself in conflict with his wife – with shocking results|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: May 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Danny is a performer on London’s cabaret circuit, but his hard work isn’t doing much for his status. When he meets Veronica, who promises to make him a star, he never guesses that this might be too good to be true. Rapidly falling in love with her – or so he thinks – soon his life revolves around doing her bidding. But Veronica is a more complex individual than Danny could ever have imagined - and her forcefulness will lead them both down an unimaginable path.
Drew Thomas is to be commended, not just for imagining this path but for showcasing it with a superb exposition. The tale is told from Danny’s perspective after he has achieved fame and even notoriety. It’s clear from the start that Danny is deeply disturbed, not just fundamentally with his alter ego 'Stella' making regular appearances to question his every move, but also with something sinister that has occurred in the recent past. Thomas uses a well-known incident in London’s crime history as a reference point for what that might be, and it adds beautifully to the sense of foreboding.
Thomas also backs up the many times he points to a shocking incident by actually having some truly shocking events occur during the book. I have been disappointed by some writers who feel the need to signpost the possibility of something major being around the corner, and all too often, either the warning takes the surprise away, or whatever ultimately occurs wasn’t worth the build up. However, Thomas has used this device expertly to ramp up the tension and it’s always a ramp up to something that is genuinely eye opening.
Writing in the first person when that person has more than one person in their head must be a challenge; Thomas has risen to this ably and although it could have been confusing for the reader to differentiate between voices, he makes everything clear. The prose style is smooth and fluid and the whole is a beautiful example of showing rather than telling. The reality of the world of backstage cabaret is shown through fascinating details, the main example being the times that Danny finds himself looking at moth eaten curtains, from the side that the audience will never see - and waiting for them to open.
There is something very touching about Danny as the 'hero' of the piece. His childhood is well explained, but only using the details that make it relevant, and his often left-field observations help to make him a very true to life character. For example, he talks about what he might have been like if he had opted for a more mundane profession, or what might have been different if he had belonged to a different generation. I might not have expected to take so well to a man who had more than one personality but only one friend - but these small insights helped to make him likeable, albeit rather gullible. However, his trusting nature ultimately commands sympathy rather than derision, partly because Veronica is the most unpleasant person you could ever have the misfortune to encounter and partly because Danny’s isolation is made so clear, his desperation to put faith in someone makes perfect sense.
Overall, this is a well crafted novel with terrific characterisation and a sinister storyline that lives up to the promises and remains shocking till the very end.
If this book appeals then you might like to try The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies.
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