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The Liminal Space by Jacquie McRae

Opening Sentences: “The liminal space: The transitional space between one point and the next. The place where possibilities live - William.”

I’ve had Jacquie McRae on my ‘must read’ list ever since I heard about ‘The Scent of Apples’ and this new novel lives up to all my expectations. The narrative almost floats along as it follows the interweaving lives of four narrators - at first seemingly unconnected. As far as storytelling goes this is a beautifully expressive piece with a dream-like quality to it.

The characters are wholly constructed and have an authenticity to them that is demonstrative of the thoughtfulness of the writer. She has captured small town England well with everything from the returning Londoner, the unusual character and the explorative young. Of particular note is the domestic dynamics - albeit violent dynamics - of the relationship between Emily and Rob where, despite the aggression shown in the character of Rob, there is a fundamentally elegant telling of the account from Emily’s perspective.

William, the at times curmudgeonly and at other times poignantly saddening, explores what it is to be part of a bigger picture in a small town and offers ‘medical’ help in the form of books and sugar pills. As a former doctor he maintains an air of illustriousness and secrecy without the typical pomposity that comes with medical practitioners in literature. He will be a favourite character for sure.

All characters speak in first person and while it can take a little while to get into the swing of the narrative, each of the narrators capture the heart as much as the mind. The type of book you find yourself drawn to at every opportunity.

This really is one of those novels that you can read in a day because of the drawing in that McRae is able to achieve through her writing style. It is a joy to read.

Publisher: Huia, RRP $25.00

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Recommendation: Highly Recommended


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