To celebrate the upcoming release of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by the incredible Caroline Smailes, I thought it would be fun to do a kind of retrospective of her work leading up to publication day!
I’ll post a review I’ve written of her work, one a day, taking us closer to publication day! Some will also have book trailers.
Why am I doing this? Well, because Caroline’s novels are incredible and you should all read her books which are beyond incredible.
We’ll start things off with her debut novel In Search of Adam.
When she is seven years old, Jude finds her mother dead from an overdose.
A bottle of pills lay scattered on the bedside table and there is a note. Jude approaches her mother carefully, slowly. The note says: Jude, I have gone in search of Adam I love you baby.
Jude doesn’t understand. She climbs into bed with her dead mother and curls up beside her, taking in the last of her mother’s warmth. Taking in the last of her mother. She does not understand that her mother can’t come back. She doesn’t understand that she won’t be coming back, Adam in tow beside her.
Her mother’s death starts Jude on a downward spiral. Floating through a sea of emotions, she is adrift and without her mother, there is nothing to anchor her. She tries to find love from her father only to have him look at her strangely. There is no acceptance there; there is no love.
Jude begins to keep a book, a diary of sorts, where she collects anchors, where she gathers information to keep her grounded, so that she has something to hold on to. Something to mark time. She collects the number of coloured doors on the street, the number and colour of cars. The names Information on the neighbours, some nicer than others.
Something happens to Jude shortly after her mother’s funeral that shatters something inside herself. Having no one to turn to for guidance, all Jude can do is collect, gather, observe.
And wait for her mothers return.
In Search of Adam is flat out incredible. We’re only part way through 2007 and I can state without a doubt that In Search of Adam is the best novel of the year. Hell, it may very well be the best novel I’ve read in years. I don’t have enough words to describe how good, how amazing, how mind blowing this novel is. I can’t find the words, they escape me.
In Search of Adam left me breathless.
Jude is an incredible protagonist. She is the ultimate observer, taking in all and everything around her; you live through Jude, you breathe through her. This is her world and her life and you are looking through her eyes. She has been drawn so beautifully, so completely, that I found myself looking for her when I wasn’t reading the book. She haunts me. While reading the novel I wanted to wrap my arms around her and hold her close to me. It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve been so moved by a book.
This is a grim book but never have child abuse, suicide, rape, emotional issues and death been written about so beautifully. Caroline Smailes is no mere writer; In Search of Adam is no mere book. She is a wordsmith, an artist and In Search of Adam is a moving, changing, gorgeous piece of word art; a tapestry that lives and breathes beyond its pages.
In Search of Adam is not just a novel you read. It’s a journey you take with Jude, holding on to her hand for dear life and watching, feeling everything that happens to her. Are you brave enough to take her hand? This is a book you don’t want to miss, a story that will move you and a journey that will touch your heart in its darkest places.
I am staring at the book as it sits on my coffee table and I can hear Jude calling to me. She still haunts me though I have closed the book; but I will pick it up again soon. Now, though, I run my fingers over the cover, over the image of Jude and know that, when I meet her again, I will know her.