After more than half a century of marriage, Dorothy and George are embarking on their first journey abroad together. Three decades younger, Jan and Annemieke are taking their last, as illness and incompatibility bring their unhappy union to an end. At first the luxury of a Caribbean resort is no match for the well-worn patterns of domestic life. Then the couples' paths cross, and a series of surprises ensues-a disappearance and an assault, most dramatically, but also a teapot tempest of passions, slights, misunderstandings, and small awakenings that punctuate a week in which each pair struggles to come to terms with what's been keeping them apart.
A hit with readers and critics alike when it was published in England in 2005, Becoming Strangers is a different kind of love story, in which there's seldom a happy ending but sometimes a chance to redeem a life half-lived.
Before he'd had cancer he'd been bored with life. Since he'd taken dying seriously, he'd been busy; he was occupied with understanding the disease and training his body to resist it. How hardy he was, physically. Six years of operations and excisions, starting with his chest, then the cancerous cells had metastasized to his lungs and on to his liver. A suite of initial excisions revealed each encampment to be partially malignant. He'd insisted on warfare. Each time the doctors told him and his family the chances of recovery were poor and the recurrence of cancer a likelihood. Year after year a fresh crop of cells emerged, excisions followed and he lived. The knife-and-forking of his body seemed to give a perverse impetus to his will to survive.
His tenacious hold on life was partly begotten by the conviction that his life must have accrued some value over time. What about all the sights and sounds recorded, all those thoughts tracked? They must be worth ...
Dean's ability to portray the tragic-comedy of everyday lives with empathic but laser-sharp wit sets Becoming Strangers way above most first novels, and presages a wonderful future for this talented author.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (477 words).
Louise Dean was born in 1970
and brought up in Kent. She
received a BA Hons in History from
Downing College, Cambridge in 1991.
After spending time in Hong Kong and
New York, she is now married with three children and splits her time between France and England.
Becoming Strangers is her first novel. It was long-listed for the 2004 Man Booker Prize, and was the only title to be voted onto the long-list unanimously by all judges. It was also a finalist for The Guardian Best First Novel Award and won the Betty Trask prize (...
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