Many, many words have been written about Beside The Sea by Véronique Olmi, and they have almost all been positive. Now that I have finally read it I can understand why.
It is a quite extrordinary piece of writing. I reacted to it physically and emotionally, and it made me look at the world differently.
Several days after I finished reading it is still in my head, and I am utterly lost for words.
I can add nothing more, say nothing different to what has been said already.
But I can thank the publisher, Meike Ziervogel of Pereine Press, and praise and endorse her words about Beside The Sea.
“This is the most impressive novel about the mother and child relationship I have ever read. Véronique Olmi handles an aspect of motherhood we all too often deny. She depicts a woman’s fear of releasing her children into the world. The simple first person narrative achieves an extraordinary level of poetry and inner truth.”
And, just in case you haven’t read about this book before, I can direct you to some of the more articulate souls who have written about it.
“In Beside the Sea, Véronique Olbi has perfectly captured the harshness of life where loneliness and poverty represent insuperable barriers to contentment. The voice which narrates the tale is perfect. We are not told the woman’s history, but its all there in her speech, the familiarity with bargain-basement life, the little flashes of humour emerging from a tormented subconscious, the maternal love for her boys, marred by too much struggle to keep her head above water.”
“Not much happens in this book. Regular readers of my blog will know that this is normally a very bad thing for me, but in the hands of such a fantastic writer this didn’t matter; the ordinary was given an emotional dimension and made to come alive.”
“Veronique Olmi’s novella is one about the fragile nature of relationships, the love of a mother whose fears for her children put them in danger, and the sad spiral into mental illness. Narrated in the limited first person point of view of the mother, the story becomes a powerful exploration inside the head of a person who is losing their grip on reality. Olmi’s prose is beautifully yet simply wrought. It captures the bleakness of the sea on a stormy day and the isolation of a woman who has no one but her children.”
“This isn’t an easy book to read, but you’ll find that you won’t be able to stop reading because you just need to know where the story is hurtling towards. Just give yourself a little breathing space in between books, and some quiet time, to really take it in.”
“I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything quite like it and as I turned the final page I was possibly a bit pale around the gills and dumbstruck at the place where Veronique Olmi had taken me and left me…it’s one of those last sentence books… “
Yes, this is an extrordinary book. A book to shout about, and yet I am still lost for words.
Translated by Adrienne Hunter