After The Fire, A Still Small Voice – Evie Wyld

One of the things that I have really loved about 2009 is extending the network of bloggers that I have met. This of course has lead me to some books and authors that I would possibly have missed. One such book is Evie Wyld’s debut and its thanks to a video Kim posted of the author describing her book as a ‘romantic thriller about men not talking’ which you can see here. With such an unusual surmising of a plot I couldn’t really not rush out and read this could I?

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‘After the Fire, A Still Small Voice’ is actually the tales of two separate men told in alternating chapters living in Australia told both in the present and in the past and not always in chronological order yet never confusing for the reader. It is really hard to tell you all about it without giving anything away but do bear with me as I will try and do my best without any spoilers and yet trying to cover everything that this wonderful book does.

The first of the men we meet is Frank. Having recently given up his life in Canberra after a rather rocky relationship he has moved to his Grandparents shack by the sea in an attempt to hide away from the world which he will have to live off, though in the end the world won’t remain hidden, neighbours will be friendly, and he will need money and so takes a part time job in the local marina. But in a small town he is watched with interest and suspicion, especially as a girl has recently gone missing. Franks a tough character and as we get to know him better and the story of his youth, though he is only in his twenties roughly, you gain an insight into why.

Leon is the second male character. We meet him in his youth in a town, where his family are looked down on for being immigrants, as he learns the trade of his father’s cake shop which when his father is sent to fight in Korea he must take over until his father comes back. Once his father returns he is a changed man and adds additional strain to the family home leaving Leon in charge for good. Only Leon himself then gets conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War and like his father the affects of war change him forever.

This makes the book sound quite simplistic and it’s not the case as Wyld throws in quite a few other plots such as a delightful romance for Leon and a wonderful tale of a little girl breaking through Frank’s tough exterior. To say anymore would simply give too much away. I thought that is was particularily remarkable how Wyld got so deeply into the two male lead characters, especially as they are both such complex, emotionally scarred and sometimes quite dislikeable characters. I wasn’t sure this book would be for me for the first two chapters and then I was hooked and read it in three sittings. Through these two men’s viewpoints I went on an emotion filled journey through loss, love, war, discrimination, and also most importantly I felt, hope.

I thought this was a marvellous piece of work, an incredibly impressive debut, I think Wyld is definitely an author to watch out for in the future. I am already wondering if there may be some recognition of this in the 2010 Orange Longlist, I do hope so, its already won The John Llewellyn Rhys prize. I am definitely honouring it with the Savidge Reads “Cover of 2009” prize, if ever you were to judge a book by its fabulous cover make it this one. I am not the only one who enjoyed this thoroughly as you can see Kim’s review here too. One of my books of the year no question.

27 Comments

Filed under Books of 2009, Evie Wyld, Jonathan Cape Publishers, Random House Publishing, Review

27 responses to “After The Fire, A Still Small Voice – Evie Wyld

  1. I can’t tell you how desperate I am to read this! Every blogger seems to rave about it. And agree with you totally about the cover – it’s beautiful.

    • Hey Justine thank you for your comment. It is a wonderful book that matches its wonderful cover. I just tried to leave a comment on your blog but there seems to be a fault with the word verification which doesnt show fully and so doesn’t let me leave anything eeek!

  2. Glad that you enjoyed this too! I’m behind in reviews but this was the “impressive debut” I spoke about the week before last.

  3. Bellezza

    The title is wonderful! I’m not sure if I’m up for a confusing book (don’t I have my favorite Murakami to fulfill that job?🙂, but I’m glad you made us aware of this.

    • Its not confusing, sorry maybe its the way have worded it. The author makes it all incredibly easy to digest, well you have to put a little bit of work in but thats a good thing with a book I think. It’s utterly marvellous and I urge you to read it.

  4. Hi, Simon! This is something that I should definitely get next year. It’s not every day that I get to hear about a book which is a “romantic thriller about men not talking.” And it’s debut fiction as well, which I really love! I just love reading new authors’ works.

    • I dont know if I would quite classify it as that quote myself. I think I would classify it as a book that “is about the person you love having done things you couldnt believe and yet you still love them” hmmm its an indescribable book really!

  5. I will start this novel next year (in a few days, haha).

    I hope that she is nominated for the Orange Prize.

    I wonder whether she is still working at the bookshop and writing her second novel.

    • I didnt know that was what she did, thats really interesting Isabel. While its won some awards I am not sure its been a big seller yet, I hope it will be. I think if I worked in a book shop I would be unable to not go back. Enjoy it when you read it.

      • This is from her website:

        She works in a small independent bookshop in Peckham, South London, called Review, and lives in Stockwell.

        Is Stockwell a town near London or a part of London?

      • Its a part of London but just like where I live its part of London and a town all in its own right. I really had no idea she worked in Peckham, how interesting!!!

  6. I have just glanced over your review Simon because I have this book beside my read right now so apart from getting the idea that you loved it I have skipped your narrative until after I have finished the read. I first noticed it on Kimbofo’s blog and went hunting for it straight away – unfortuntately my cover is the “Aussie” version and is not nearly as divine as yours.

    • Oh I havent seen the Aussie issue, give me a second…

      Hmmm its not awful, I do prefer the UK one though and I even like the paperback version which is very very rare for me. I always feel paperback covers are never as nice as the hardback ones in quite a few cases.

  7. I have heard some great things about this book too. I hope that I can find a copy soon and that I enjoy it as much as you did.

    • I hope you enjoy it when you get it. Its definately one of the releases this year am glad I havent missed. There are so many I still have though, good things books are timeless in some ways isnt it!

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  9. Hooray!! So glad you enjoyed it. (And thanks for all the lovely links to my blog.)

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