‘There was no one moment when the universe shifted. It wasn’t a sudden, brutal quake in the night. It was a slow drifting of the landscape so that for ages things hardly appeared any different, and then one day you look around and realize that the world has altered cataclysmically whilst your attention was elsewhere’
This was a great book to read immediately after The Machine. Whilst The Machine is almost claustrophobic in its focus, tightly written, almost encouraging a fast first read (followed by a slower, more careful, reread), The View on the Way Down is very different. It’s slower, the language simple but precise. It’s a beautiful examination of grief, memory, and family. As the tragedy at the heart of the book is gradually revealed, we’re lead through the different responses found in each family member. The mother’s denial, the father’s anger, Emma’s innocence, and Jamie’s guilt. Each is completely isolated from the others, time seemingly at a standstill whilst the world rushes on around them. The fragile thread that holds them together is Kit’s death, the memories of which none of them want to re-examine. Wait succeeds in making each of these very different characters believable. Their regrets are felt sharply, but you’re left with the feeling that there really was no other way any of them could have reacted. The story of Kit himself is carefully handled, a compassionate and yet still raw and truthful account of despair. It had me in tears by the end.
It’s now hour twenty-three of the readathon (I confess, I gave up and went to bed for a few hours at around 3am). I doubt I’ll manage to finish another book before the end, but I’ll try and get started on something for the last couple of hours.