Published by Allen & Unwin
Available in Ebook, Audio & Hardback (7 January 2021)
Source: Received for review from publisher
ABOUT THE BOOK
A playful, lyrical novel about otherness, change, and the gap between generations in a London community.
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.
Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.
Set over a period of 12 months, from October to the following September, Victoria Park focuses on the lives of 12 of the Park’s residents amid the changing seasons. Beginning and ending with the enduring love story of Wolfie and Mona, married for 65 years – Mona is suffering from Alzheimers and barely remembers people in her present whilst being increasingly confused with those from her past.
Each character has a story of their own – it could be momentous or quite mundane and unfolds as a series of vignettes documenting the lives of the inhabitants of Victoria Park, each one being connected to another in some way and moving the timeline forward. A pivotal reference point in the book seems to be a recent acid attack on a young boy in the park, and which remains unsolved. This causes much unease and speculation.
With often harsh and honest insight and observations, there is also something incredibly moving and poignant about some of the narratives. We see thoughts and emotions as people’s individual situations are disclosed – from the mother and businesswoman who has lived here for many years but illegally, the young housebreaker who finds the unexpected, the female couple undertaking IVF treatment, and the bitter old woman no longer able to live independently.
The community was such a diverse one and each individual story held my interest; I enjoyed seeing how the stories flowed into one another and discovering things about the characters from another perspective. There were some chapters that I wished had been a bit longer as I wanted to know more, and occasionally I would have liked to have seen more of a reaction to certain events instead of something just being mentioned in passing. Nonetheless this was an extraordinary debut novel, a superbly crafted character driven study of a community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London