Sunday, June 5, 2022

Arms Around Frank Richardson

Arms Around Frank Richardson by Sylvia Colley
6/16/22; 340 pages
Muswell Press

Arms Around Frank Richardson by Sylvia Colley is a very highly recommended literary family drama and character study.

Following Frank, Alice and Henry across thirty years this in-depth character study and family drama demonstrates the impact of childhood trauma on three different adults. Frank and his younger sister Kitty have been abused by both their alcoholic father and their mother's alcoholic and drug abusing boyfriend before they escape for their lives one night to the couple who live next door. From this point on Frank only wants to protect his sister and make sure everything goes smoothly. Alice is physically disabled and is frustrated by her limp and recurring pain. Henry is the son of wealthy parents who consider their artistic son less intelligent than his overachieving brother.

The novel alternates between these characters starting over 30 years in the past when they are all children and follows them into adulthood. They all deal with the families and fate that life has dealt them until by chance they all meet and interact together as adults. Essentially, for most of the novel readers will be following these different characters and their individual, separate stories until they gradually start to connect toward the end. The beginning of the novel takes patience as it is difficult to see where these individual stories, which are all compelling on their own, are going to somehow merge into a complete picture.

What hold will hold your interest in these character studies of individuals and their lives is the absolutely exquisite writing. Both the characters and the sense of time and place are carefully crafted and beautifully rendered. Even when the separate chapters seem so removed from each other it will be the writing that will keep you reading and caring about these flawed individuals. This is a simple incredible well-written work of literary fiction.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Muswell Press.

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