Review: Elmet by Fiona Mozley

Elmet by Fiona Mozley collage

Fiona Mozley’s Elmet was nominated for the Man Booker in 2017 and this year it got longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. A book getting so much attention in the literary world is a must read for all book-lovers out there. On top of that it is a debut novel, so why not get acquainted with a new ‘possibly’ great author. I am always on the lookout for great books, so when I got the chance I grabbed it from my library.

I read some pretty awesome debut novels in 2017, like Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. These books stayed with me to this day and ever since I’ve been on the lookout for other ones. Now I can add Elmet to that list.

Elmet is told by Daniel, who is heading north, looking for someone. During this trip, we go back in time with him and find out about where he’s from, his family his life and circumstances.

Daniel’s family is a small one. It is a family of three, him, his sister Cathy and their larger than life Daddy. They used to live with their grandmother but after her passing Daddy took them out to the woods where they built their own cabin and settled there with the aim to live a simple life off the surrounding land. Daddy leaves periodically but Cathy and Daniel can take care of themselves. In the context of the 21st century, this is quite an unusual situation.

So why did Danny decide to take his children to this secluded corner of the world and live so separated from society? As the novel progresses we find out more, or simply guess the bigger picture. At times it felt like reading a puzzle and each time a piece of it fell into place I felt my heart break a little bit more. I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone, so all I’ll say is that this is very much about fairness towards others and oneself, it is about prejudices and discrimination. The question is, can one live a pure life? A life where we are genuine and fair with each other.

From the longlist of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018 I plan on reading a few more titles and can't wait to see which will end up on the shortlist. I hope Elmet will make it as it is an amazing book. ●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●● – H(a)ppy by Nicola Barker (William Heinemann) – The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Jonathan Cape) – Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon (The Borough Press) – Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig (Grove Press) – Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Corsair) – The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar (Harvill Secker) – Sight by Jessie Greengrass (John Murray) – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Harper Collins) – When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy (Atlantic) – Elmet by Fiona Mozley (John Murray) – The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton) – See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Tinder Press) – A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert (Virago) – Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury) – The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal (Viking) – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury Circus) ●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●●● #elmet #fionamozley #womensprizeforfiction #baileysprize #literaryfiction #debutnovel #recentlyread

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This book will break your heart as you realize that there are some things you cannot run away from. There is no magical place where one can live secluded these days. Society will find a way to you and the question is can you survive by sticking to your values? Will you break or will you make others break in order to keep what you have and value?

I love how the author chose a simple language to tell us about the heartbreaking events happening to these people. The writing is lyrical and atmospheric. I loved the description of the rural areas of England and the woods. The woods give this story an almost enchanted like feel. It has an almost ‘once upon a time vibe’, especially since the language of fairy tales is also simple and to the point.

This book explores so many topics and so well. We talk about class, race, family, the bond between father and child, morality, love, loyalty, greed, and justice.

There are so many things I loved about this novel. One of them being how Cathy and Daniel see their ‘larger than life’ father. How they know him and at the same time don’t know him. What I find interesting is that their loyalty is so deep that not knowing part of him makes sense, because loving and being loyal to the core to someone means there is absolute trust in the relationship, therefore that trust extends to those parts of the person’s life we don’t know but accept completely. There is no wrong in anything Daddy does. And that makes so much sense. Sometimes I forgot that Daniel was a child, and when I remembered I realized that yes, children idolize their parents and whatever the parents say is the absolute and irrefutable truth.

This is a beautiful book and everyone should read it.

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