It’s a chilly, windy, rainy-ish morning as we end this tempestuous month and look forward to May, which I always think of as the true beginning of spring, when we should be getting more mild, pleasant, settled weather. But it looks like this next week is going to be rainy and the temperatures are going to be all over the place, warm one day, chilly the next. Thank goodness for the reliability of a hot cup of tea and a good book!
Speaking of tempestuous weather, I reread that fabulous eco-thriller I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The Rapture by Liz Jensen. This novel, set in the not-too-distant future, tells the story of an unlikely group of people who are trying to save the earth from further ecological disaster on a monumental scale. Gabrielle Fox is an art therapist who, following a car accident that has left her a paraplegic with serious emotional scars, leaves her home in London and relocates to a remote coastal town to take on a contract position at Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, where she works specifically with Bethany Krall, a sixteen-year-old who, two years earlier, drove a screwdriver into her mother’s eye. Bethany claims to have visions of future meteorological events after her ECT treatments, but no one believes she really “sees” things, just that she is spouting off what she has Googled or heard on the news. She dismisses Gabrielle’s attempts to get her to talk about her mother’s murder, but Gabrielle begins to take Bethany’s visions seriously when she predicts, to the day, a tsunami that will hit Rio de Janeiro, a location that never experiences such weather phenomena. But, stuck in a wheelchair, suffering emotional damage, and having no supports, there is little she can do without allies. A strange woman appears to be stalking her, and when she is finally approached, it turns out that this is Bethany’s former therapist, Joy, who suffered a breakdown and had to leave the hospital on medical grounds. She appears to be the one person who can help Gabrielle, as she seemed to believe in Bethany’s abilities, but it turns out that Joy has other ideas. A true ally comes in the unlikely form of a Scottish physicist named Frazer Melville, whom she meets at a fundraiser and forms an instant bond. Melville manages to rally a group of climatological experts who must convince the leading meteorological guru to take Bethany’s predictions of worldwide ecological disaster to the media or risk unprecedented catastrophe. Oh, I nearly forgot - Bethany’s father is a pastoral leader in the Faith Wave, a powerful Evangelical movement that is sweeping the UK with its messages of the Rapture, when true believers will be taken up by God while the rest of the world suffers seven years of plagues and pestilence during the Tribulation. I don’t read many books in the thriller genre; I prefer psychological fiction rather than plot-driven novels that focus on fast-paced storylines, as these leave little room for the character development that I so enjoy. While I don’t feel that this novel had alot of character development, I felt that it had all the elements of a successful thriller. The main characters were flawed yet likeable, even matricidal Bethany, and the story was timely and all-too-believable. There was also a love story, always an uplifting element in a novel that was bleak at the best of times. And the relationship Gabrielle and Frazer develop with Bethany, while seemingly unbelievable, is, in fact, simultaneously credible and moving and heartbreaking. This page-turner will make you angry and sad, and if you don’t already believe in global warming, you will by the time you reach the last page. This novel reminded me of Peter Hoeg’s book Smilla’s Sense of Snow, and is sure to appeal to a wide audience of readers.
OK, it’s time for me to get outside, despite the chilly high winds, before the rain starts again.
Bye for now…