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doppelgänger

noun

  • An apparition or double of a living person.

 

The doppelgänger is a recurring device in popular culture, the duplicate other often featuring as part of some larger, nefarious plot – the rather creepy film The Double Man (1967) and Ira Levin’s excellent The Stepford Wives (1972) cases in point. Michael Redhill, in his latest novel Bellevue Square, employs the conceit to glorious and comic effect.

At the opening of the book, Jean Mason, Redhill’s protagonist, leads a pretty normal life in downtown Toronto. She’s a wife, mother and owner of a bookshop called Bookshop (‘I do subtlety in other areas of my life’). But when one of her regular customers attacks her out of the blue, swearing he’s seen her not 15 minutes before in a different locale with different hair, Jean’s world begins to shift.

Intrigued by the notion of her ‘twin’ and the very strange behaviour of the people who seem to have encountered her, Jean decides to track the woman down.

Her journey leads her to Bellevue Square, a park inhabited by a host of mad, addicted and lost souls, all seemingly ‘decent’, who become her informants, feeding her information on her ‘other’. But intrigue gives way to obsession and before long Jean is questioning the very fabric of her being, and what is real and what is not.

Darkly funny and well-plotted, Bellevue Square is a gem of a book. A delight.

 

Bellevue Square | Michael Redhill | No Exit | August 2018 | paperback | £8.99

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Acknowledgements: Doppelgänger definition, from Oxford Dictionary. Quoted text p. 11 © Michael Redhill 2017. This review is published as part of the Bellevue Square virtual book tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for arranging it and to Katherine Sunderland and the publisher, No Exit Press, for kindly supplying a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Image ‘Book on a book’ © The Literary Shed 2018.

 

Also of interest: ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets‘;‘Chris Whitaker’s mad, mad world – Tall Oaks’; ‘A tale of Jews and shoes in modern China, Spencer Wise’s debut novel‘; ‘Everyone needs a Mavis … or a Gina Kirkham’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir’; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes – a Billy Wilder classic?’; ‘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’; ‘Nora Roberts’ Come Sundown – a tale of strong women’.

 

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.