“And it’s like: you know on kind of a formal level that there’s laws, but then when you’re actually on the street and see it through their eyes, you realise it’s just dog-eat-dog, same as everything else” – even the cops don’t have a clear line on right and wrong in Ben Sanders’ latest novel, The stakes, and most of his characters are conflicted, confused and making their moves “So you feel the strange weight of the strange moment”.
Into the World is an historical adventure on the high seas with great characters and an interesting plot. From the beginning of the novel, when Marie-Louise Girardin brands herself and her infant son before leaving him to the fate of an orphan and fleeing France, we are drawn into her story. What could drive a woman to do such a thing?
I read Egan’s prize winning A visit from the Goon Squad with a detached fascination – an intriguing experimental novel. This book is very different and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a fascinating historical novel in its own right, but one with a narrative structure that tries to reflect how the individuals themselves discover the “real story”, rather than as a flowing narrative, while also reflecting the cultural perspectives of the period with the whole almost being immersed in the rhythms and power of water, which plays a huge part in the novel.