Ready to discover a moving debut novel in 2021? I might have just the thing…
Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves
Genre: General/Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Atlantic Books)
Date Published: 7 January 2021 (Hardback & Ebook)
Print length: 304 pages
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.
Though it took me a while to read – more than likely down to my inability to balance this and the other books I read in late 2020 – there is no denying that Victoria Park is a beautiful contemporary debut.
The book captures the lives of twelve people over the course of one year, starting – and ending – with Mona and Wolfie. I really liked the way the book was set out, each chapter bringing a new month and a different viewpoint with it. The characters were not just interesting on their own but I loved how Reeves weaved them together, reflecting how people play a role in each other’s lives – sometimes a minor one, other times major.
Reeves is brilliant at describing spaces, from small houses filled with eclectic things to hotel rooms, so much so I felt as if I, too, was there with the characters (despite my only experience of London being one school trip years ago, full of rushing around, cancelled tubes and annoyance that one place could be so crowded 😂).
Victoria Park deals with topics like navigating IVF, death, Alzheimer’s, and infidelity (amongst others) with sensitivity, heart and (at times) humour. I was worried at first how so many difficult, and different, topics would work in one book but it does – without being “too much” or too heavy.
My one gripe with the book was that I wanted more. Rather than a novel, I would say this is a collection of novellas and – though these stories connect extremely well with each other – I did feel as though some stories were screaming out for resolution they never truly got. My natural curiosity really wanted to know how things worked out and, just when I thought I’d get the answer, a new chapter would roll around. This book was quite a tease 😂.
Victoria Park effortlessly weaves together twelve people, their lives and the world around them in a fascinating, insightful debut novel. I hope Reeves revisits these characters at some point but, even if she doesn’t, I’m still interested to see what she does next.
A Few “Thank Yous”
I wouldn’t have been able to read this book, or participate in this Blog Tour, without a few people. Firstly, I want to thank Anne Cater (of Random Things Tours, and Random Things Through my Letterbox) for organising this blog tour (and letting me be part of it!).
I also want to thank the publishers, Allen & Unwin, and the writer Gemma Reeves for allowing me to read a physical copy of this book. I was captivated by this debut novel and I hope others will be, as well.
About the Author
Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.
You can purchase Victoria Park on Amazon
That’s my stop on the Random Things Tour for Victoria Park complete. Don’t forget to check out the other reviews and interviews as part of this tour.
As always, you can find me (and more things books, baking and everything in between) on: