Thursday 30 January 2020

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

This novel charts what happens in a small village over the 13 years after the disappearance of 13 year old Rebecca. Each year has a chapter and each chapter follows the same structure, showing what changes and what doesn't change as time passes and Rebecca's disappearance recedes in people's minds and drops from being a live case being investigated by the police into being one that is filed as unsolved. 

The village community slowly comes to terms with what happened and events gradually go back to normal. The New Year celebrations in the first couple of years after the disappearance are very muted for example but then become more festive. 

The individuals in the village get on with their ordinary lives, working, making and breaking relationships. Some of them are affected by the disappearance more than others. Some villagers remain figures in the background, while others feature more prominently in the storyline, though we don't really get close to any of them.

The natural world cycles through the seasons, a constant backdrop to the events in the human world. The nature writing in this book is beautiful:

'At the edge of the beech wood and in the walls along the road the foxgloves were tall, and the bees crept in and out of the bright thimbled flowers. On the fence post by the road, a buzzard waited.'

This is a beautifully written book and offers a meditation on how life is affected by tragic events.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor published by 4th Estate (2017)

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