The Drowning of Arthur Braxton by Caroline Smailes ~Goodreads~
Published by The Friday Project Ltd 2013
Paperback 371 pages ~The Book Depository~
Arthur Braxton runs away from school.
He hides out in an abandoned building, an old Edwardian bathhouse.
He discovers a naked woman swimming in the pool.
From this point on, nothing will ever be the same.
‘The Drowning of Arthur Braxton’ is an unflinching account of the pain and trauma of adolescence and of how first love can transform the most unhappy of lives into something miraculous. It is a dark and brooding modern fairy tale from one of our most gifted writers.
Okay so before this review gets complicated, its one of those books where you love it…but it is a little bit fucked up. You sort of think to yourself “am I allowed to like this book because its so messed up?”, and my answer is yes, yes you can because this truly was a spectacular read!
There’s been so much buzz around this novel that I gave in and downloaded it from the Kindle store (mainly because I couldn’t wait a few days to order the physical copy because I’m demanding and lazy-oops!).
This book carries with it a dark plot and attached with some awfully messed up characters. Sadly I don’t want to give too much away of this book as its too good to spoil!
I love the historical context to this book, where its basically set in old Victoria bathhouses in the north of England- and the back of the book it does tell you a great deal of the superstitions that arose during this time period.
You first meet Laurel who gets a job at The Oracle (name of the bathhouse), where she works alongside three “water healers”. All three are unique in a sense that they’re messed up people with a great deal of spiritual beliefs. What keeps you intrigued with this book up to the very end is what happens to Laurel, you’re given a taster of who she is and then you’re left on a cliffhanger which isn’t wrapped up until all the loose ends begin to tie together and you’re enlightened!
The book is set out in third person with each character giving their perspectives as well as starting from the past and ending with the present, you begin to wonder why each chapter tells you a name of a person and when they’ve gone missing- the outcome may not be what you’re immediately thinking to begin with!
You meet Arthur who is troubled teenager, bullied in school and with a dysfunctional family. He finds comfort in visiting The Oracle as he finds love with the beautiful naked lass, Delphina. Their love story isn’t for me like any other, its tragic and yet so wonderful all at once.
Some of you who have read this book maybe thinking- “Has she gone mad? This book was so sad!” Yes it is a sad book but the sadness in a way is happy. I’m not entirely sure that makes sense, maybe I’ve gone mad from reading this book? Who knows! But it works out to be a sad but happy ending to an extent.
All I can say is, I can’t begin to express how well written this book is and Smailes to me is such a creative writer. She kept me glued to this book throughout and despite the heartbreak and corruptness of her characters, this book is simply beautiful.
I’m pleased to say also that I was followed yesterday on Twitter by Caroline Smailes herself, I’m overjoyed! 🙂