Terence Cave, intellectual, music-lover and owner of Cave Antiques, has experienced more than his share of tragedies. His mother's suicide and his young wife's death at the hands of burglars left him to bring up his young twins alone. And now one of them has died in a grotesque accident as a result of bullying. Bryony, the remaining twin, has always been the family's great hope: a golden teenager, in love with her cello and her pony, clever, sweet and eager to please. Now that she is all Terence has left, he realises that his one duty in life is to keep her safe from the world's malign forces, whatever that may take.As he starts to follow his grieving daughter's movements, and enforces a draconian set of rules purely for her own safety, the voices in his head convince him to protect her innocence at any cost. "The Possession on Mr Cave" is both a nightmare of Gothic proportions and a story of distorted love, with chilling resonance for anyone who has been a parent or a frustrated teenager. In this compulsive novel, the characteristic black humour of "The Last Family in England" and "The Dead Fathers Club" moves even further onto the dark side.
Matt Haig lays bare the process by which Terence's love for Bryony becomes a possessive force that will lead to destruction and, ultimately, murder.
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(223mm x 142mm x 22mm)
Jonathan Cape Ltd
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
A history of grievous family losses transforms a mild-mannered antiques dealer into a judgmental "fascist" (his daughter's word) in British author Haig's latest novel.Haig (The Labrador Pact, 2008, etc.) writes books in which ordeals endured by endangered families are suggestively linked to circumstantially similar literary works (e.g., Shakespeare's - as in his novel The Dead Fathers Club's reworking of Hamlet). Thus, protagonist Terence Cave's determination to protect his surviving loved one - his musically gifted daughter Bryony - channels Keats's language and Beethoven's harmonies, in a disturbed orchestration of overprotectiveness and paranoia. For the death of Bryony's "slow" twin brother Reuben, resulting from vicious neighborhood bullying, has followed the suicide of her paternal grandmother and the murder of Bryony's own mother (during a botched robbery). In a book-length "letter" written in Terence's imagination to the increasingly indignant Bryony, Terence attempts to explain fears that drive him to burden her with draconian rules, harass and interrogate her friends and, finally, confront her "unworthy" boyfriend Denny - who embodies a climactic surprise all too easily foreseen by the reader. Haig labors mightily, overextending what's essentially an idea for a short story, adhering to Terence's obsessed viewpoint, as the character's delusive imaginings lead to outright hallucinations and a final violent act. The ironies are predictable and jejune, the banalities and truisms (e.g., humans' need to learn the passive "wisdom" of animals) legion, the whole mishmash embarrassingly contrived and over the top. Only the superb opening scene - that of Reuben's pathetic death - carries genuine conviction. It raises expectations that the rest of the book utterly fails to satisfy.A bad book from a good writer who needs a new subject. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Matt Haig
Matt Haig's first novel for young readers, Shadow Forest, won the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Gold Smarties Award. He is also the author of various adult novels, including the bestsellers The Last Family in England, The Radleys and The Humans. Reviewers have called his writing 'totally engrossing', 'touching, quirky and macabre' and 'so surprising and strange that it vaults into a realm all of its own'. His books have been translated into 25 languages. He lives in York.