Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?
Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press furore quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is also isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world…
Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives… in an instant.
I absolutely adore Michael J Malone’s writing and I featured him in my very first column of 17 Degrees when I fell in love with A Suitable Lie. I am happy to report that A Song of Isolation is even better than his previous writing and I was absolutely blown away with this unforgettable and emotional read. I have featured it in my Autumn Reads 2020 column as I want as many people as possible to pick up this book and be as caught up as I was in this skilful portrayal of the way society examines guilt, innocence and everything in between…
When a novel hooks you in with a premise like this – dealing with the ultimate taboo of being accused of this sort of indecency and whether or not we can defend the seemingly indefensible, you know that you are in for a thrilling and immersive read, and I was definitely up for that! It is immediately intriguing to wonder exactly who we can trust in this cleverly constructed tale and speculate about what you might have done in these circumstances and to what extent people’s actions – or lack of them – might be crucial to all that unfolds. It is a testament to Michael’s writing that you are absolutely inside this story and feel like these are real people whose lives you have become entangled in – and just like real people’s lives, the truth is rarely as black and white, nor as tidy as people like to think. This tale was not only immersive but absolutely emotionally compelling too and the writing will keep you turning those pages as you imagine yourself caught up in a nightmare like this and think about the way you might have judged people you have heard about or watched on the news in the past…
I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to dwell too long on the plot here, Dave and Amelie’s life is so skillfully portrayed by Malone that you are bound up in the allegations with them and get carried along in their nightmare journey, feeling every twist and jolt of the agonising situation. The skillful way that he weaves the many and diverse strands of characters and motivations in this very topical and timely tale is superbly done and remains gripping and intriguing throughout, Damaris is an intriguing character and despite the question about Dave’s guilt or innocence that burns at the heart of this tale, you never for one minute manage to forget that there is a victim here and we feel like even if the allegations against Dave do prove to be wholly unfounded, there is definitely something dark lurking here that make us feel protective and devastated at this situation. I know at times it can feel like the fictional world is saturated with abuse stories with potential perpetrators whose diverse motivations create plenty of room for speculation and suspicion, but this time it’s superbly done without a hint of sensationalism or poor taste. The plot bears us along as this story unfolds for Dave and Amelie, never letting up on the tension that is nicely manipulated by Malone here adding in lots of opportunities to second-guess yourself and adding another layer of emotion and agony for the reader as we are so invested in this tale.
I loved the way that this novel wove both threads together – a convincing depiction of the torment and pain of being accused of something as heinous as this is perfectly juxtaposed with Damaris’ situation and what was brought her to make these allegations and allows you to move between them and get more insight into the complexity of this heartbreaking dilemma – and wonder if your guesses are correct about what will happen next. This is the perfect read for these long autumn nights and would be an absolutely amazing book club choice – I guarantee that you’ll be recommending it to so many people afterwards – as you’ll not be able to stop thinking about this heartrending and beautifully plotted story and you’ll want to see what they think as soon as they’ve finished .
A Song of Isolation is definitely one of those novels that you are unable to forget, and was far more emotional and lasting a read than I’d ever anticipated – it really is a page turner; keeping you guessing throughout and firmly entwined in the moral dilemma it asks you to weigh up and charge yourself with
If you enjoy an immersive and moving piece of fiction that challenges your preconceptions and tests your prejudices in a shattering and visceral way then you will love this book as much as I did. I absolutely can’t recommend it enough and feel like I haven’t been so emotionally caught up in a book for a very long time. Your emotions will be moved every which way by this novel and you should start reading by being prepared to question yourself and your responses several times throughout this fictional journey into an unimaginable situation.
If you feel intrigued and would like to order yourself a copy and find out for yourself what has had such a huge impact on me, then buy yourself a copy here
Check out these other fantastic bloggers on the tour. Thank you so much to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for the invite – You know that I love an Orenda read and I know that Karen will be delighted to see Michael featured in my newest column – out in October!
Writer On The Shelf
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings.
Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit.
A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.
‘Malone is the master of twists, turns and the unexpected, with the skill to keep things grounded. So much so, that the reader can picture themselves in the very circumstances described. Superb storytelling from a master of his craft’ Herald Scotland
‘Beautiful, lyrical prose takes the reader through a perfectly constructed, often harrowing tale’ Denzil Meyrick