Alys, Always: A Novel

Alys, Always - Harriet Lane Full review of this work appears here, on Buried In Print.

Each of us has experienced those moments, when passing noise and bustle, of feeling removed from what really matters.

You know, those moments of startling clarity, when you are surrounded by stillness, observing the action but separated from it?

Like this, in Frances' words, in Harriet Lane's debut novel:

"Every so often, I walk by a café or a cheap restaurant with steamed-up windows, and the sound of coffee machines and cutlery comes out as someone arrives or leaves, and then the door swings shut and the sound dies away."

And, in the moment which really matters in Frances' life, she is surrounded by stillness and the action has precipitated her arrival on the scene.

She is driving home from her parents' house and she sees that a car has gone off the road; when she stops to wait at the scene of the accident, she hears nothing, at first, but strains to hear the sound of the emergency vehicles.

But this is not as quiet a scene as it seems; inwardly, and unbeknownst to the reader, there is action unfolding, as Frances evaluates, gauges and predicts.

What remains clear is that Harriet Lane's debut novel contains pockets of darkness, seemingly airless, enveloping the reader in anticipation.

It's a delicious kind of un-knowing.