Friday 13 February 2015

The Page by M Jonathan Lee

Following a tragic car accident, Michael Sewell is alone for the first time. The loss of his wife, Margaret, after thirty years of marriage has left a hole far greater than Michael could have imagined. 
Persuaded to go on holiday by his daughter Jane, he's at the pool when a page blown from a book sticks to his chest. 
The words from the page resonate with Michael, describing in detail the exact events leading up to the accident. 
Now, Michael must delve into his past and face his future, taking him and his family on a horrifying and tragic journey toward the truth... 
The Page combines dark humour with a racing storyline, as the reader tries to work out what will happen to the main character before he does. M. Jonathan Lee has been compared to Mark Haddon, Nick Hornby and Rachel Joyce.

The Page by M Jonathan Lee was published through Matador (Troubador Publishing) earlier this year. I have only just discovered that The Page is the second part of a trilogy, the first; The Radio was published in 2013. I haven't read The Radio and I thought that The Page works well as a standalone novel. I have since read the blurb from the first book, and realise now that it may be best to read that one first. Don't let that put you off though!

The Page is unlike anything that I've read before. Primarily a thriller, it's also a dark and witty tale, with possibly one of the most obnoxious and quite cruel lead characters that I've ever come across.

Michael is holidaying alone. Margaret, his wife of over thirty years was killed in a car accident a few months ago and his daughter Jane arranged this trip to Spain for him. Michael has always been in control, he has always made all of the decisions. Life for him has been one where everyone around him bowed to his wishes, and if anything displeased him, or didn't fit into his idea of a perfect world, then he got rid of the problem.

Michael doesn't really know how to relax, especially not in this family-centred mass tourist resort in Spain. He is annoyed by the children, by the other adult guests and by the food. Spain is too hot, they don't serve good whisky and the pool is far too crowded. Oh, and it gets windy too. A particularly strong gust of wind blows a book's pages all over the poolside and Michael ends up with one page stuck to his sun lotion oiled chest. When Michael reads this random page from a random book he is shocked and quite frightened; this page details his life and the last sentence scares him.

The Page details Michaels quest to track down the remainder of the book, to try to find out just what happens next. This is an intriguing premise, and although it is the central theme of the story, for me, the beauty of this novel is everything that goes on around Michael and the other characters in thes story.

M Jonathan Lee has a wonderful way with words, his descriptive prose is stunning, but not overdone. In fact, his writing can be very abrupt and quite sparse, but I like that - why use 50 words when 10 carefully chosen ones can do the same job?

"Lynne, a lady in her forties, had a shock of blond hair. She wore thick red lipstick which had the consistency of pate.  Her eyelids were painted a shiny light blue. Her fingernails, which extended claw-like, were painted to match her lips. She smiled in a way that suggested that any joy she experienced in life was categorically outside of the workplace."

The reader is taken back to key points in Michael's life; starting work, meeting his wife Margaret, becoming a parent, and each event clearly shows the intricacies of Michael's somewhat appalling character. We meet his daughter Jane, we become involved in her life and her work and her desperation to please her father.

The Page ended quite abruptly, with some questions unanswered, with some characters still mysterious. I don't mind that, I love a story that makes me think, and ponder and wonder what the hell just happened!

Unusual, quirky, well written with characters that the reader will love and hate in equal measures. I'm a fan!

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

M. Jonathan Lee (also known as Jonathan Lee) was born in 1974. He was born in Barnsley where he still lives today. In between juggling a full-time job, looking after five children and feeding two cats, he writes stories. 

His first novel, The Radio was shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012 and is the first in the loosely titled The 'The' trilogy. His second novel, The Page is released in February 2015. he is currently working on his third novel, the catchily titled A Tiny Feeling of Fear or The Two Sides of One.

Accompanying The Page is a huge competition to win a share of the author's royalties. It is believed that this is the first competition of its kind.

He has extensively toured The Radio, speaking at various literary festivals including Turn the Page and Off the Shelf. He is a regular guest on BBC Radio Sheffield's comedy show Live-ish and is hoping one day that writing will become his full time career.

More details including contact information and competition entries can be found at his website:

Check out his Facebook page      Follow him on Twitter @J0n4th4n_Lee

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