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The two books I have recently read have some contemporary issues that we are aware of as the scaffolding for their tales.
Joanne Harris’ tale of the experiences of her chocolatier Vianne in Monsieur Le Cure ISBN: 9780552776998: Swan Books at transworldbooks.co.uk (sadly, this WP didn’t provide the special character e of the French alphabet when I typed in the book title) and Stef Penney’s tale of her half-gypsy, Private Detective, character Ray Lovell in The Invisible Ones ISBN: 978-0-85738-293-1: quercusbooks.co.uk are both about outsiders of one kind or another. Within themselves they are made to be either insiders or outsiders and vice versa at any time depending on their history or the circumstances in the stories.
Both books are entertaining and full of insights into their characters’ heritage. The epistemology of those insights, however, is for others to verify.
The two writers have used the contemporary issues of immigration and misplaced people to show, through the actions of their characters, what can happen when people perceive differences between themselves. How they can develop prejudices, resentments, fear and hatred. Misunderstandings and gossip fuel the dramas. In both books the characters’ reticence and misleading revelations to other characters figure prominently.
Each of the books has its characters who were previously portrayed as extremely confident; shaken in confidence . Their characters previously lacking self-confidence find theirs. You’ll have to read these stories to know more.
Adrian Regis, 13th July 2014.