Light Reading — Not

A couple of weeks ago (back in the days of my old blog), I wrote a post about the launch party for Aliya Whiteley’s latest book. I first ‘met’ Aliya on the writers’ work­shop and for­um UKAuthors site. Later, Aliya edited my first book, Déjà Vu; and yet it was only two weeks ago that I found out how to pro­nounce her name cor­rectly.

(I’m not as bad as the Leopard speech engine, though, which pro­nounces it ali-YAH! like a someone in attack pyja­mas killing a brick with his wor­ry­ingly-floppy hand.)

I’ve just fin­ished her latest book, Light Reading, and wanted to post a some­what quick-and-dirty review in a John-Woo-fir­ing-both-guns-while-jump­ing-side­ways-in-slow-motion-kind-of-style. Alas, I wouldn’t be able to place this review in a respect­able pub­lic­a­tion because I’m not writ­ing from a par­tic­u­larly object­ive stand­point. This blog is the ideal place for it.

However, read­ers of the blog might recall: I always write hon­est reviews; if I don’t like a book, I simply don’t men­tion it (with some dis­hon­our­able excep­tions).

Light Reading begins on a British RAF air­base. The men have flown away to fight in the desert. This leaves their wives with little to do but gos­sip, try to sur­vive the long, dark tea-times of cof­fee-and-wal­nut cake, and com­mit sui­cide. This last option is selec­ted by only one of the wives, but it sends the prot­ag­on­ists, acerbic Pru and sexy Lena, on a quest to the sleepy Devonian town of Allcombe.

You under­stand, read­er, that a town described as ‘sleepy’ in such a book is far from sleepy; it’s often lively in quite unex­pec­ted ways.

That’s as far as I can go with the plot. It’s genu­inely inter­est­ing and mys­ter­ies are revealed, yet deepened, in much the same man­ner as Lost, without the con­com­it­ant desire to hunt down J J Abrams and smoth­er him with his own mys­tery box.

This book has some fant­ast­ic dia­logue. There is a real ten­sion between the prot­ag­on­ists. Aliya is skil­ful in her man­age­ment of the two points of view. There are some moments when this device doesn’t quite work. For example, in her diary, Lena reports the con­tents of a let­ter ver­batim des­pite hav­ing read it once over anoth­er character’s shoulder. But the dual­ity of the nar­rat­ive is itself a mys­tery that keeps the read­er want­ing to know more.

The end­ing is sub­vers­ive and clev­er.

In an email to Aliya, I wrote that she’s taken things to a new level in this book. She’s fir­ing on all cyl­in­ders in terms of her craft and the book stays in the memory long after the final page is turned.

You really should buy this book. Check out Aliya’s web­site and blog (co-authored with Neil Ayres). There’s even a book trail­er. Meanwhile, the book is avail­able via Amazon and the usu­al chan­nels.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “Light Reading — Not”

  1. Hi Ian

    I totally agree about tak­ing things to a new level. I read and liked Three Things About Me, but Light Reading is in a whole ‘noth­er league.
    Cool review, btw.

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