Monday 11 January 2021

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves BLOG TOUR @g_c_reeves @AllenAndUnwinUK #VictoriaPark @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours


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.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves was published in eBook and Hardback by Allen and Unwin on 7 January 2021, the paperback will be published in August. 
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour .

I have been utterly enchanted by the beautifully written, tender debut novel from Gemma Reeves. I am a huge fan of multiple points of view, and Victoria Park is exactly that. Whilst the reader does begin and end the journey through the park with Wolfie and Mona, we are also introduced to the other residents who live by the park.

Just like most streets in the UK, the houses that look out on to Victoria Park are occupied by a mixed and diverse group, with at times, only their location connecting them. The author cleverly tells each character's tale as she proceeds through the months of the year, so whilst these are individual characters, they do grow and move on through the year. It's fascinating to hear from one resident, and then hear from another; about the same incident, or the same person, and hear the different view and voices of each thing.

There's an air of sadness that runs throughout this novel. Beginning with Mona's obvious health decline, and Wolfie's determination to care for her at home. They were both Kindertransport children and have been together for almost sixty-five years. The strength of their love is palpable, and it is quite heart breaking to read of Mona's decline; although she's a wonderful character in herself; with some fabulous one-liners too.

Sometimes a character seems like they are just passing through, and then later in the book, they will have a whole chapter of their own. The connections can seem loose at first, but the author's incredible skill in knitting together these glimpses into lives is perfectly done, and the reader is often a little shocked when they find out more. 

There are some serious issues uncovered within the novel too. There's a central focus for many of the characters; a terrible acid attack that recently happened in the park. Whilst the reader, or the characters, to be fair, know very little about the reasons behind the attack, it is an incident that has affected them all, in different ways. The author deals with things that affect all walks of life; from the teenager who is struggling with identity, to the effects of infidelity on a family. She doesn't go into enormous detail about these issues, she leaves the reader to ponder and maybe create their own stories to go alongside hers. 

Victoria Park is warm, witty and wise. It's a story of an everyday street, filled with everyday people. It's a story that celebrates our differences, and celebrates the strength of community. This is a moving read with characters that linger. Highly recommended.

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London

Victoria Park is her debut novel.

Twitter @g_c_reeves

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