Monday, March 26, 2012

The Roundabout Man by Clare Morrall

I loved it!

A review of The Roundabout Man at Fleur Fisher caught my attention and I requested it from the library. I wasn't sure if it was quite my sort of book but I was so wrong and it's definitely one of my favourite reads so far this year.

Most people in their fifties wanting to get away from their ordinary life and seeking peace and quiet would opt for a cottage hideaway in France or a mountain top in Tibet to meditate on. Not Quinn......he tows his caravan into the centre of a busy roundabout where he lives ' in the eye of the storm', alone with the trees and the birds, while the rest of the world spins around him. He isn't a tramp even though he survives on the leftovers from a nearby motorway service station and  entertains the customers at the laundromat with stories so they will include his washing with theirs. Quinn is content with his life.

Then a young reporter discovers his hideaway, decides he will make a good story, and writes an article for the newspaper. The repercussions of this invasion of privacy not only bring Quinn back out into the world but also force him to face his past and the uncomfortable truths and secrets it holds about himself, his sisters, and his mother.

What he hopes no one will discover is that he is THE QUINN , immortalised as a child by his mother in her entrancing tales about a little boy's adventures with his triplet sisters. She wrote of a perfect and loving family but the reality was she was detached and indifferent to her children and the succession of foster children that came and went throughout Quinn's childhood.

I think this is a book that will particularly appeal to older readers - those who were raised on Enid Blyton will hear echoes of the Famous Five and their 'lashings of ginger beer' in the excerpts from Quinn's mother's books. The author also captures the reticence of 50's parents, the reluctance to confide, inform or explain to children because they didn't need to know.

It's hard to pinpoint why I enjoyed The Roundabout Man so much. There isn't really a plot and the story wanders from present to past but the nostalgia and the interesting characters made for delightfully different reading.

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