October 16, 2017
Beautifully sad. The echoes of love and loss. FIVE STARS
According to its author, Beautiful Deconstruction is a novel of loss, of love, a story of growing old. What he doesn’t include in the bio line and very cleverly so is that the story is also an observation of a forgotten time, a bygone age, the stiff British upper lip, a life of denial. From the present to the past and back again we journey into the lives of two men Anthony and Douglas as they start a new life in their 40s in France. Marks excellent (as always) observance delight and humour comes into force as he takes on a journey throughout their village life where by reading you feel you are there in a quaint French village, buying a baguette and sipping a café with Pierre, the bar-cafe owner. Visually it is appealing as are the characters he has created, the formidable post office madam, the supermarche owner, his own cackling Spanish housekeeper and the soap sudden laundry mistress. French men appear with cloth caps and cigarettes perched on their upper lip. You can smell the pastis and café as you turn the pages.
And just when you think everything is swimming on nicely, in the background is a niggling thought that something has to happen. And it does, very suddenly. The fort that Mark has created is suddenly altered and, as he writes, “the deconstruction has begun.” Marks writing also alters dramatically between humour and sadness. The final chapter between Anthony and Douglas is heart wrenching, the loss of their animals equally so. You wonder how much of the authors own life has been captured, changed and hidden between the lines. Perhaps none, perhaps some. The British stiff upper lip then comes into play, “and then what happened next…”
Certain aspects of Anthony and Douglas’s lives are missing and quite rightly so. The timespan is withdrawn but one feels the book is set thirty or so years so. Sex and sexuality is also removed, it isn’t required. This isn’t a love story in the strongest sense but a story of just two men who live together probably for the sake of living.
A sad book, a happy book, a beautiful book and one that leaves you smelling the lavender and poppies and harking for a more solitude time.
October 26, 2017