I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run
Martin Waring is the curator of the Ulster Museum in Belfast. He is married to Alison and they have two children Rachel and Tom. Rachel is the apple of her father's eye and he is overjoyed when he learns that his daughter has acquired 10 top grades, ten stars, and is destined to be accepted into one of the great institutions of learning....Oxford or Cambridge beckons. One night both Martin and his daughter make wrong decisions the outcome of which alters their lives, in a way that I as a reader did not see, and what follows is both harrowing and heart-wrenching in equal measures. It is difficult to actually discuss Swallowing the Sun without disclosing the plot and indeed the final outcome. We learn of a tough and abusive childhood with a vicious and drunken father and a mother too weak to protect the innocence of her sons; Martin and his brother Rob. In Belfast Martin has associations with loyalist gangs and sympathizers from the early hard days of his youth. As the story progresses he finds himself drawn back to his connections in an attempt to find answers as his life begins to unravel, spiraling out of control. The ending is a stroke of pure genius as the curator of the museum struggles to make sense of what has happened, creating a space that will forever act as a reminder of his loss and pain.
The characters in this story like all of us are flawed and the repercussions of decisions taken will always have a ripple effect on members of the family. Martin Waring openly displays his frailties yet as the novel progresses I began to develop an admiration for him as both he and his wife Alison learn to cope with a heartache that will forever remain. David Park has written a sublime novel, the open wounds of pain and regret on every page and every word and expression he uses adding to the feeling of hopelessness and sadness..."where the past is cared for and preserved, where nothing is allowed to decay or be destroyed"...."So why doesn't he come in now, sit on her bed and give her some advice? Tell her the things he knows. About how you find someone to love"....."He feels only the stirring of his doubt now, a loss of confidence, wonders if she will be able to read in his body the drive of his desperation, the depth of his need"....."where the past is cared for and preserved, where nothing is allowed to decay or be destroyed"....
If I were to choose one book that is both lyrical and thought provoking my choice would be this brilliant novel by David Park. Highly Recommended.