Disraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes – A Review

DABehind closed doors, there are many secrets.

We all have secrets. We hold on to them tightly, even if they burn our hands, knowing that they must never see the light of day.

Released into the light, these secrets could heal one life and shatter another. We will take our secrets to the grave, taking comfort in the fact that no one will hear them, that no one will know them. That no one will know who we really and truly are. This is how things have always been.

On Disraeli Avenue, there are lots of secrets; lots of hidden truths buried like treasure. Some are like soft golden coins, shining in the light and begging to be heard. Some are like rubies with sharp edged teeth, waiting to bite the hand that dips into them and draw blood.

In her new novella, Caroline Smailes returns to Disraeli Avenue, the setting for her amazing debut novel In Search of Adam.During In Search of Adam, we got to know the inhabitants of Disraeli Avenue through the eyes of Jude Williams.

Now, Smailes is giving those inhabitants their own voice. Disraeli Avenue consists of thirty-four vignettes, thirty-four insights into the lives of the people who make up Disraeli Avenue.

I’ve actually read this novella seven times now. I read it three times a piece when it was released in it’s previous incarnations and I’ve read it through again. Each and every time, I’m blown away by how incredible Smailes is. It’s a hard task to give thirty-four individual people their own distinctive voice. Most seasoned authors struggle with this for years and never manage to create distinctive voices.

Thankfully, Smailes achieves this with aplomb. Told in diary entries, text messages, letters, receipts, invoices and more, Disraeli Avenue is an intimate and revealing look at the people that make up a neighbourhood; the people that live close to one another never really knowing who their neighbours are.

For those of you who have not read In Search of Adam, you can breathe easy: it’s not necessary to have read In Search of Adam to read Disraeli Avenue. But I can guarantee after reading Disraeli Avenue that you’ll want to read In Search of Adam to see where it all began. Though the subject matter may be grim, covering topics such as death, suicide, sexual abuse, theft, love, friendship, family and more, the novella is incredibly well written and will pull you in.

You will need to keep reading to find out whom you will meet next, whose voice you will hear. Whose life you will get to see into, just for a moment. You will not be able to put this book down. Each chapter brings a new voice, just begging to be heard.

I found this to be one of the novella’s strengths. Smailes has created a tapestry of people, a real live neighbourhood that must surely be around the corner. You start to recognize the different people that populate Disraeli Avenue as they appear in other stories, other vignettes. What’s more, you come to know them. To care for them, even though we only know them for an instant.

Once again, Smailes offers us a study in human nature, a study in what really makes people tick and comes out on top. She isn’t afraid to pull any punches either. There is a vibrancy to her words that leaps off the page and that makes Disraeli Avenue all the more amazing.

I was incredibly moved by  Disraeli Avenue and it touched so many different emotions. It has been a long time since a book has done that, has reached down into me and pulled at my heart. I feel I know the people of Disraeli Avenue and I know that they will haunt me for a long time to come. The entire novella was a journey.

Smailes herself has been on quite a journey with Disraeli Avenue and you can read about that here: http://www.carolinesmailes.co.uk/wrote-disraeli-avenue-charity Every cent of her royalties will go to the charity One in Four.  You can get your copy of Disraeli Avenue HERE.

Read and be amazed.

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