Art and design

Books

Culture

Environment

Fashion

Film

Life and style

Money

Music

Politics

Science

Technology

Travel

Television

US news

World news

Reconciliation by Guy Ware review – ingenious plotting in a seductive narrative

Guy Ware’s novel is supposedly based on family stories about his grandfather, purported to have been a spy who was helped to escape from Nazi-occupied Norway.
Guy Ware’s novel is supposedly based on family stories about his grandfather, purported to have been a spy who was helped to escape from Nazi-occupied Norway.

This ingenious novel succeeds in being both a highly readable story of second world war derring-do and its aftermath and a clever Celtic knot of a puzzle about writing itself. These two functions of the narrative can’t really be separated out: it’s the seductive believability of the storyline that repeatedly makes Guy Ware’s point that stories aren’t true – even when they’re based on historical events – and yet we yearn for them to be so. We can’t even be sure that Ware’s opening note is true: his novel grew, he says, from family stories about his grandfather, purported to have been a spy who was helped to escape from Nazi-occupied Norway by a man whose family paid a terrible price for his courageous act. Just who is telling this story? There are different narrators, but verbal tripwires indicate that all is not as it seems: impossible echoes from one person’s account to the next alert us to the, yes, fictional nature of what we are being drawn into and pull us up short. The complexity of who saw what and wrote what is maddening but also exhilarating, and very funny in places.

Reconciliation is published by Salt. To order a copy for £7.64 (RRP £8.99) go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

This article titled "Reconciliation by Guy Ware review – ingenious plotting in a seductive narrative" was written by Jane Housham, for The Guardian on Friday 13 October 2017 01.01pm

Books

Writer's Luck: A Memoir 1976-1991 by David Lodge – digested read

Attentive readers may remember that the first volume of my autobiography concluded with the… Read more

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers review – smell the coffee

The culture war dividing the US is being fought over the relevance of empathy. On the one hand a… Read more

Landeg White obituary

My friend and former colleague Landeg White, who has died at his home in Portugal aged 77, was an… Read more

Poem of the week: Carnival by Caitlin Doyle

Carnival Pretty eyes, he said to you, let’s get tickets let’s get two let’s get on the tilt-a-whirl… Read more

Further reading: David Olusoga on the books that uncovered our secret history

That old cliche, “history is written by the victors”, doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. It is… Read more

Somerset says only volunteers can keep libraries open

Almost half of Somerset’s 34 libraries could be under threat of closure if volunteers are not found… Read more

Amy Tan: ‘Writing it was exhilarating, but I wish it hadn’t been published’

Amy Tan is the author of six bestselling novels, including The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s… Read more

The mystery of the Sphinx’s nose is already settled | Brief letters

The question of the Sphinx’s nose was conclusively settled in that peerless work Asterix and… Read more

Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?

Welcome to this week’s blog. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week. First,… Read more

In brief: Reservoir 13; Nefertiti’s Face; Restless Souls – review

Reservoir 13 Jon McGregor 4th Estate, £8.99 (paperback) A teenage girl goes missing on a windswept… Read more