In the few seconds after the crash, something strange happens. There’s a sudden change in the atmosphere of the material world. And in nearby Evanton the light flattens so anything unbeautiful becomes sinister and pretty things seem slightly surreal.
Usually, I dislike novels about rebirth. I dislike self-pitying and indulgent diatribes about people rebuilding their lives. This may sound cruel but I honestly believe it’s such a difficult concept to get right that too often the characters feel flat and the sentiment rings false. Cynthia Rogerson’s ‘If I Touched The Earth’ was something entirely different.
When Alison Ross loses her son Calum in a car crash, her world turns upside down. In her struggle to cope, she does some strange and uncharacteristic things – starting with a one-night stand with her ex-best friend, Neal – and sets in motion a chain of events that will lead her on a journey she could never have imagined.
By a certain age in life we are all touched by bereavement. Some of us deal with this through tears, some through anger, and some through silence. It makes us stop for a moment, no matter how distantly we are connected to the death, and re-evaluate ourselves, our actions and our desires. We often spend too much time trying to act appropriately. Rogerson’s new novel is a gritty yet beautiful exploration of this time through the eyes of a heartbroken mother, a lost man and a community struggling to recover from the impact.
Part of what makes Rogerson’s writing so interesting is her depiction of emotions as a spiritual-cum-physical essence that leaves marks on the lives of others:
She wonders if the noise is not actual, but atmospheric. Maybe their thoughts, their grief, their anxieties about death, are tumbling into the air. Maybe the air is a soup of emotional exhalations.
This delicate touch of almost magical realism adds an ethereal quality contrasted with the settings of 90s Alness and Glasgow.
‘If I Touched The Earth’ is simultaneously raw and gentle. A fiercely honest account of human nature, the narrative deals with the impact of Calum’s death upon the entire community and not just Alison. The follies and foibles of each character are curiously touching and allow readers to find echoes of themselves there. Rogerson’s writing is well-crafted, set entirely in the present tense and yet still retains raw and natural in its presentation of grief and new love.
A slow-burning, thought-provoking novel that was fascinating to read. Thoroughly recommend.
I have two copies of this books for my first ever giveaway!!!
How to enter:
Simply make sure that you are following The Thiessen Review on Twitter and Facebook, and then leave a comment below saying you would like enter.
The competition will end on Friday 9th November at 8pm and two winners will be selected at random.
The competition is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered. Congrats to the two winners – Hannah Campbell and Kathy Hadfield!!!