Monday, March 4, 2013

The Blue Book

A.L. Kennedy

The Blue Book is prolific Scottish author A.L. Kennedy’s fifteenth book, and sees her in top form. Beth and her dull but safe boyfriend Derek are taking a cruise across the Atlantic when they unexpectedly encounter an obnoxious, chatty little man named Arthur—who just happens to be Beth’s former partner in a series of cons, as well as her sometime lover. As Beth tries to keep Derek from learning about Arthur, the line between the person she is and the person she wants to be starts to blur, with even more important secrets from her past working their way to the surface.
Kennedy’s prose is Nabokovian in its beauty. Her sentences are elegant, complex, and structured with such obvious care that it becomes impossible to imagine that the words could have come together in any other configuration. Nearly every page offers a line that you will want to remember for the rest of your life.

The Blue Book can be challenging at times. There are long sections written in italics, extended digressions that seem irrelevant at first glance (though they pay off later), and shifting timelines and viewpoints that could have become a confusing mess in the hands of a lesser writer.
Kennedy has produced a nuanced portrait of love, grief, and need as imperatives that stem from romance, affection, domesticity, and the lies we tell about who we are. The Blue Book is a surprisingly intense book that challenges the reader’s emotions as thoroughly as it does its characters’.

August C. Bourré

August C. Bourré is a Waterloo-based writer and editor who blogs about books at

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