When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.
Attend by West Camel, is unlike anything else I have read this year. I don’t usually read contemporary fiction, but I am so glad I read this book. It is a very hard book to define, as it can easily fit into many genres: crime, magic realism and even romance. Deborah is the lead character in this book who holds everything together and she does become the centre of our focus. Then there are the characters, Anne and Sam, both who are very different to each other, but who ultimately are pulled together in this wonderful, mesmerising and addictive plot. It is a very strong debut that I suspect I’ll be talking about and recommending for a while.
Anne is the first character we are introduced to, a recovering heroin addict, who has just moved into her new home in Deptford. She meets Deborah who comes across as a vulnerable, lonely old woman, but she has a fascinating past which she begins to divulge to Anne. In the end, for me, Deborah came across as one of the strongest characters in this book, which I was surprised by. We are then introduced to Sam who has only recently begun to accept his sexuality, and he forms a relationship with a local thug, Derek, who is well known in the area, which means he has a reputation to uphold. Their newfound relationship is a move that surprises both of them. Sam is also drawn in by Deborah and her compelling stories. These three threads are stitched together in a very clever, and a very well plotted way.
It was the characters in this book which made this book such a compelling read, and West Camel’s writing swept me into his story from the first page and into the murky areas of Deptford. One theme that does come across strongly in this book is the theme of loneliness, and this is what I did think of whenever I thought about Deborah and her stories. There are some flashback scenes in this book when she is revisiting her past, as she is re-telling it to Anne and Sam, and these scenes really did make me want to concentrate as I tried to understand her character more.
West Camel’s writing is what made this book feel so very fresh and unique; there are some wonderful descriptive phrases throughout Attend that added so much depth and colour to his characters and the settings. He is such an exciting new writer and I cannot wait to see what he writes next.
If you’re looking for a book that is dark, has very good writing, but very different to what is currently out there in the market at the moment, then I would highly, highly recommend Attend. It is a stunning piece of fiction. I loved it. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book to review.
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication date: 15th November 2018 (kindle) 13th December 2018 (paperback)
Print length: 287 pages
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