Sunday, February 7, 2010

Marieke's review - Last Orders by Graham Swift

Last Orders by Graham Swift

Some books need to settle a bit before I can write about them. Graham Swift's Last Orders is one of these -- a quiet story of love and loss, the meaning of family, and the unbreakable ties of friendship.

I love the way the story is structured on a day’s journey made by four old friends to scatter the ashes of their recently deceased pal, Jack. As their journey progresses, we get glimpses into the private memories of each character as they revisit moments from their long acquaintance with Jack and with each other.

Strands of emotion connect each character in an invisible web, with Jack surely at the center.

Animosity, admiration, loneliness and jealousy seep out of every word, every gesture, every exchange.

This is a story with more remaining unspoken than is spoken. That’s what I mean by ‘quiet’. But the depth of feeling conveyed is notable: Vince’s resentment toward his father, Ray’s flame for Amy, Lenny’s anger and distrust, Vic’s deep respect for Jack.

Swift’s short chapters sketch the scenes and characters quickly and efficiently but not haphazardly. The effect is like watching a master artist create a magnificent painting with just a few strokes.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

You can read my original review here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marieke....this is interesting that we read the same book and posted on the same day! I am going to the library to pick up The Sea later today too. I like what you say about "quiet" - it is a quietly told story with lots going on under the surface of everything. It was a bit of a challenge to read too....but I was really glad to have read it.