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Perhaps Richard was right. Perhaps this was a mistake. Not a starting over, nor a moving on, after all. He had called it a pilgrimage. More a hopeless, poisonous return, than a soul-saving reclamation. Like that elephant revisiting my loss until it overwhelms me, saps the life and energy from me.…

The elephant returns unbidden.… I rake over the tragedy of their ending. The parallels to my own situation seem obvious, as if the boy had been sent to bring me solace, or at least some explanation for my fall.”

 

There are certain publishers with lists that shine, and Urbane is one of them. It’s thus not particularly surprising that Adrian Harvey, author of Being Someone, should be a member of its literary stable.

His first novel, Being Someone  is a beautifully rendered tale of relationships, love and loss. It moves primarily between southern India and London, both brought to life with intelligence and authenticity, and opens with a fable, essentially, about mahout Annayya and his beloved friend, the bull elephant Iravatha. When tragedy strikes, Iravatha must soldier on alone, both guilt- and grief-sticken, until his death. Their story is told to James, the novel’s protagonist, by a young man he meets on the streets of Mysore. Parallel to this is James’ own story and his love affair with gorgeous Lainey, marked with a ‘celestial birthmark’, whom he marries and betrays, one could argue, through little more than complacency.

Harvey’s use of language is lyrical at points, elevating this to more than just a well-written, well-told book. And yet, it’s the landscapes that stand out, Harvey’s love for his settings shining through in every careful description, making them sing.

His India is a familiar one to many of us, the streets, noise, smells, even language vividly painted so that we’re there with James in the silk shop, looking at every single piece of cloth with no intention of buying anything (we think), or in an alien hotel room, trying to make sense of the world we’ve been introduced to and our place within it. London is given equal weight, whether Clapham Common or Hoxton, the minutiae making it a living, breathing, wonderful entity which anyone remotely enthralled by the city will recognise.

Being Someone is an easy read, the rhythm and fluidity of Harvey’s language totally engaging us from beginning to end, something that only a skilled writer can do. It’s a fine book. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

Being Someone | Adrian Harvey | Urbane | paperback | £7.99 |

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Acknowledgements: Quoted text from Being Someone © Adrian Harvey 2014. Many thanks to lovely Kelly at Love Books Groups, and to the publisher for sending a review copy and the jacket image (we did like the original edition though). All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.

 

 

Also of interest: A Greater God, a very good book indeed’’; ‘A tale of “Jews and shoes” in modern China, Spencer Wise’s debut novel’; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘The Woolgrower’s companion‘; ‘Rowan Coleman’s nod to the Gothics’; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’;‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Rememembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘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).

This review is © 2019 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.

 

 

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