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The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones

PUBLISHED BY TEXT PUBLISHING
REVIEW BY CALLIE STEVEN

Artist Martin Glass feels like he’s an ageing 43 year old. Divorced and with only weekend access to his young daughter, he does not cope well when his father dies. His younger sister Evie, a dysfunctional genius, has her own issues in life.

But is there a mystery surrounding their father's death? And what was he doing in Sicily scant weeks before that so interests the police? Martin travels to Sicily to try and solve the mystery of his father’s last months and the reader is treated to a series of flashbacks as we discover that Noah wasn’t quite what he seemed.

There's no doubt that Jones is an excellent writer, and the novel contains some simply breathtaking passages, however there is something about this tale that lacks heart. The constant flitting back and forward in time and from character to character are slightly scattershot: you never really feel fully engaged with the characters.

However, the complex relationships and ideas are rewarded with more intense bursts of reading. This also allows readers to ruminate on the importance of art: the way it affects us and mirrors, and even creates, our lives. It is this addition, and almost obsession with, art that helps create depth and displays the complexity of feeling between this unusual family.

Noah is fascinating and I think I would have preferred more from him than his slightly whiney son Martin. The latter half of the book, with more focus on Noah, is therefore more enjoyable. This is also where some of the intrigue comes to a head with some beautiful scenes of Martin and Noah, separated by time, in the Italian town of Palermo.

The book is infused with flashbacks of past transgressions that create a mood of sorrow and regret; the mourning of children for their parents, knowing that they now can never really be known. Layered with rich description and symbolism, Jones paints a picture of family, love, and how death affects us all differently. At its core the novel interrogates the relationship between family; especially the way our parents affect us.

 

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.