Source: Review Copy
Winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Jean Mason has a doppelganger.
She’s never seen her, but others* swear they have.
*others | noun. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants – the regulars of Bellevue Square.
Jean lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and two kids. The proud owner of a thriving bookstore, she doesn’t rattle easily – not like she used to. But after two of her customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate. Curiosity grows to obsession and soon Jean’s concerns shift from the identity of the woman, to her very own.
Funny, dark and surprising, Bellevue Square takes readers down the existentialist rabbit hole and asks the question: what happens when the sense you’ve made of things stops making sense?
Bellevue Square is one of the most unusual books I have read recently. Although I did enjoy the story, I did find that it did take me a little while to get into this one. The premise is strong and had me intrigued, but it just took me a little longer to be pulled into the plot. But once I got into the story I flew through it. If you’re after something that is a little different and will keep you thinking, this is a novel I would definitely recommend.
The lead character, Jean is informed that she has a doppelganger. A woman has been spotted who looks exactly like her. It then becomes Jean’s obsession to track the woman down. Jean was a character who grew on me and who I did find fascinating. Her quest to track down Ingrid, her lookalike pushes the plot forward. She begins to spend her time looking out for her in Bellevue Square. This is where the story really becomes interesting. As the story progresses, we meet several characters who pass through this square who Jean becomes acquainted with.
There are some really good scenes in this book where the pace keeps you flicking the pages although it does slow down at some parts in the middle. Some of my favourite scenes were when Jean is spending time with her family and these scenes really make her character feel human.
You do have to suspend the belief system a little bit as you’re reading this book but that was what made this novel particularly exciting. When I’m reading a psychological thriller I do have a tendency to be thinking about what potentially could be coming next and I sometimes manage to guess the twists. But with Bellevue Square I found this to be a completely different reading experience. I didn’t know what to expect next and I found the characters and the central idea to be utterly unique, compared to anything I have read before.
Overall I did find this book to be an enjoyable and an exciting read. I don’t think this is a story that will be quite for everyone but if you enjoy unusual stories and if you’re looking for something that is unique, then I would definitely suggest giving this book a try. You will find that you’ll get lost in Jean’s world as she tries to work out what is happening in her life and as she pursues her quest to hunt down the mysterious Ingrid.
Reading Bellevue Square has made me keen to read more from Michael Redhill; he is a fascinating writer who explores some intriguing ideas. I do keep wondering how he managed to come up with the idea for this story. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to Katherine Sunderland at No Exit Press for sending me a copy of the book to review.
Publisher: No Exit Press
Publication date: 15th August 2018
Print length: 256 pages
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