Victoria Park is a memorable read indeed and today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of this remarkable debut novel from Gemma Reeves.
Victoria Park was published by Allen and Unwin on January 7th 2021 and is available in Hardback and on ebook. An audiobook will be available on January 22nd and a paperback is due to come later this year.
by Gemma Reeves
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.
This is such a beautiful novel. It touches on the nuances of ‘normal’ life. The characters brilliantly constructed and brought together throughout the novel. It is described as a ‘rich tapestry of a novel’ and I find it difficult to think of a more fitting description. Over the course of just 12 months we get to know this small community in London, a community whose lives cross more than they realise. The everyday being far from mundane as they each wrestle with what life throws at them. I loved the multiple perspectives, it gave so much colour and life to the mix and produced the most touching and moving example of modern life. The rich mix of characters, each with very different backgrounds, ages and circumstances. Yet all felt genuine and the story would not have been the same if any one of them were missing from it.
Mona and Wolfie, married for sixty-five years, quite rightly begin and end the story and seeing their part in this gave me great hope in the power of love. They are a well loved couple who have stood the test of time. One you hope to imagine in any community. A couple that everyone loves. Mona is suffering from dementia and Gemma handles the subject, the symptoms and the truth of the illness beautifully. Oh and that final page… it was stunningly done and so moving.
Like life the story is tinged with sadness but there is also great joy and a sense of beginnings as well as endings. Mia and Bettie, Daniel and Monty, Luca and Elena, Freddy and Ana, Rose, Joe, Veronica and Alice. Just some of the characters you will come to know if you welcome this book into your life. Alongside Mona and Wolfie they appeared to me through the pages and each one has remained with me still.
Gemma is a very talented writer. The words flow and keep you engaged but there is a beauty about them that encourage you to slow down and take your time. There is also a timeless feel to the novel and time, place and character simply comes alive in your hands. It would make a wonderful film but I have no real need for that, the images are all there in my head. I can hear the characters speaking, feel their pain, frustration and joy. It really was a wonderful read and has certainly set the bar very high indeed for books in 2021. Thoroughly recommended and will be hard to beat for my book of the year.
My greatest thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the publisher for sending me a proof to read and review. It was such a joy to read and I very much look forward to seeing what comes next from Gemma Reeves.
Gemma Reeves ia a writer and teacher who live and works in London. Victoria Park is her debut novel.