Saturday, May 26, 2012
The Forrests - UK review for Emily Perkins' latest
Reviewed by Simon Savidge
Emily Perkins' latest novel is a dreamlike tale of families and the things that go unsaid in a life.
The Forrests is a clever mixture of family saga and the story of the life of Dorothy Forrest. As we follow her from her childhood, and the slightly dysfunctional family that she comes from, we are drawn into her life through snapshots. Interestingly, Dorothy isn’t the omnipresent narrator or even the main protagonist; that role often passes onto other characters - mainly her siblings like Eve, and some who don’t really appear in the book, like Daniel, a boy her mother took in. It’s also a book which seems to celebrate the ordinary and everyday in life; there is no major story arch, just snapshot stories of a woman’s life.
The Forrests is at once likeable and frustrating. The writing is utterly beautiful, yet sometimes Perkins so wants to fill the book with words - which some people will love - the sentences can become never-ending. The style of the novel and its drifting nature makes it seem dreamlike, but it is sometimes unsure who in the Forrest family the reader is following and sometimes it you feel slightly unable to connect with any one character - especially Dot, on whom the novel focuses in particular from a midway point; she isn’t developed enough at the start. Some people will love this book, some with loathe it. It is admirable for its prose and style, even if I never quite fully connected with it.