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West Camel, first of all what a great name … Now that’s out of my system, Attend, Camel’s debut novel, is yet another fine example of clever publishing by Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books.

Set in Deptford, south London, the book opens with a meeting between Anne, who’s recently returned to the area, and Deborah, a slightly arcane, elderly woman who seems to pop up in the oddest of places, just when the characters are feeling at their most alone. Deborah is also the link between Sam – in London for ‘flashing bars and clubs, for guys with their shirts off. For sex’ – and edgy Derek, the man with whom he falls in love. Anne, Sam and Derek are all facing their own crises and Deborah, through the stories she weaves and the London and history she reveals to them, helps them to find their way.

Like Louise Voss’s The Old You, Camel’s Attend is extremely readable. Packed with detail, it evokes Deptford and its environs beautifully – and that’s something that probably would have endeared the book to me anyway, as it’s the London I grew up in and know well. That apart, the characters and dialogue are authentic, the storyline attention-holding and it’s extremely well-written. Camel is an editor and writer and his precision and respect for language shines through. So, really, what’s not to like?

I’m not going to bang on about Orenda, as I have mentioned in previous reviews how much I respect the kind of publishing it’s doing. Suffice it to say, the list showcases extremely fine domestic and international writing and West Camel’s Attend slots slickly into this.

Attend | West Camel | Orenda Books | 13 December 2018 | paperback | £8.99

 

Music to listen to: Give my love to London, Mariane Faithfull; ‘Labelled with Love‘, Squeeze; ‘Southside riddim’, Southside Allstars

Acknowledgements: Quote from Attend © West Camel 2018. This review is published as part of the Attend virtual book tour. Many thanks to  lovely Anne Cater for organising the tour and to the publisher for supplying a book proof. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

See also: ‘Remembrance of things past: The Old You’; ‘Another one bites the dust: Symon’s Overkill; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir’; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select The Literary Lounge Q&As/interviews:  ‘Gunnar Staalesen: The Literary Lounge Q&A’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist; ‘Meet Gina Kirkham: The Literary Lounge Q&A.

Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

 

This review is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.