I read L C Tyler’s first novel (The Herring Seller’s Apprentice) recently and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately ordered this, his second.
It has characteristics rare in second novels – it is as good as its predecessor, but completely different.
A Very Persistent Illusion is the story of Chris Sorensen. Asked to describe himself he would tell you that he is the inventor of the Sorensen-Birtwistle Revised Scale of Girl Rage which he believes will one day take its deserved place alongside other scales which measure danger. That tells you a lot!
He has a steady job and a comfortable life, and apart from the further development of his creation, his main concern is advancing his relationship with his pretty young assistant and avoiding the possibility of marriage to his girlfriend Virginia.
Chris isn’t the most attractive of characters, but fortunately he is engaging and eminently believable.
In a parallel narrative, set around three hundred years earlier, a French philosopher is considering the nature of reality and verbally jousting with an interested waiter. This would be useful to Chris, but of course he can’t hear them – and it’s doubtful that he would listen even if he could.
Back in the present, the death of Virginia’s father leads her mother to make a very indiscreet revelation about her late husband. That revelation sends Chris and Virginia off on an investigation, and it soons become clear that Virginia’s father was not the man she thought he was.
Meanwhile, and maybe more importantly, Chris’s life is slowly unravelling. Facts about his past slowly emerge and acknowledgement of that past could make or break him.
This may not sound scintillating but, trust me, it is the execution that makes this book sing. Wonderful, fully-formed and multi-layered characters who will stay with you; a plot that at first seems simple seems simple, but that you soon realise is so clever, and that will make you laugh and cry; and just the right style of writing to hold everything together.
Definitely an author to watch!