I was lucky enough to be sent Between the Regions of Kindness for review to celebrate it’s release as part of a blog tour this month.
Between The Regions of Kindness is a very special book. Told between generations facing two wars, it is a heartfelt study of what it means to be human, to grieve, to try and live after loss.
During the second world war, Coventry is hit by some of the worst bombings. In the picturesque town destroyed by war, twenty-two-year-old Rose is about to make a drastic decision after the shock of losing everything and almost everyone. That decision echoes through the generations, affecting her family for years to come.
Modern Brighton in the months leading up to the Iraq war and the streets appear unaffected by global turmoil, but the inhabitants are feeling it’s impact as they try to continue on as normal. In particular Rose’s granddaughter Laura and her son, Jay are being pulled in by the constant news of war. Will their lives be as tragically effected by war as Rose’s?
Moving between historical fiction and modern, literary prose, this beautifully written novel will transport you to the second world war and the Iraq war. Both narratives feel unflinchingly real as we move between the different characters. We hear from people close to Laura and Jay and see how the actions of one person can have an impact on so many.
At times Between The Regions of Kindness is brutally honest and vividly real as it portrays every kind of grief and loss. Then it flickers toward the surreal and otherworldly, facing head on our preoccupation with the supernatural in times of trouble. Moving between protagonists of all ages and genders, Jolly shows an amazing ability to get inside the head of any character. Each narrative was unique and there is no confusion passing between them because Jolly manages to create an authentic voice for each character.
From the opening chapter, I was drawn in by the unique prose style. I was uncertain what to expect but slowly, slowly, the plot unfolded like a painting appearing on a canvas. The plot is mainly character and emotion led, with a few twists along the way. The beauty of this book is in the lives of its characters, the lives which feel real and close.
I highly recommend this novel, it’s a lesson in how to write beautiful prose and create realistic characters. At the same time, it plays with magic and the supernatural, dream worlds and things that can’t possibly happen and yet as the reader, we go along with them, we believe.
Unlike anything I’ve read recently, The Regions of Kindness is a literary work with real weight and emotion. The writing style takes a little getting used to – for example, a lack of speech marks – but any reader who sticks with this interesting style of writing will be embraced by a truly heartfelt but challenging story. Truly, a must read.