We become like the river reflected, both light and dark. Struggling artist Sylvia is offered an unusual commission by the mysterious Victor, acting on behalf of a secret sponsor, who wants to engage her for a year to produce art depicting the Holocaust.
She accepts the project on trust and discovers an enigmatic thirteen-year-old girl Nina, who becomes her model and pupil.As the months pass, Sylvia begins to unravel the truth about Victor, the secret sponsor and Nina, while unearthing more about history and identity than she was ever prepared for.
A family drama that champions the structures and beliefs that underpin a civilised society, The River Reflects faces the darkest shadows of human nature. With the Thames winding relentlessly through this compelling story, Sylvia, Victor, Nina and those around them progress from fear and isolation to seek love and fortitude and the redemptive power of the human spirit.
This book definitely did not disappoint, it grabbed me and pulled me right into the story even when it was a hard read at times due to the dark twists and turns that the naraytive follows like the Thames which flows at the heart of the story . I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that we get to hear about events from such a unique perspective and this really added to the story for me – where there is an intangible and dreamlike atmosphere running through the entire story making the tale ebb and flow and the events and ideas sweep over you as you read.
I absolutely loved the unique and mysteriousatmosphere of this novel and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to imagine myself in Sylvia’s shoes and inhabiting a life where which your choices and influences are subject to external forces and the character of Victor mysteriously looming over all like a forebvoding leitmotif added another unforgettable dimension to this hypnotically told tale.
This novel presents Sylvia and Nina’s tale in a fresh original way which makes the story linger at the edges of our consciousness even when we aren’t reading it. Both of these characters feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to explore ideas and concepts – which I’ve often found in novels which want to represent something that happened in the past. This is a really unique novel which has to be experienced to truly realise how absorbing and special it is.
I am in awe of his atmospheric writing that makes you feel like you’ve had the opportunity to live these experiences. Mark Godfrey is a talented and original writer – it’s hard to talk about this novel and let you feel how unique its voice is, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is a story filled with skilful description and perceptive characterisation that add up to its sense of atmosphere and your relationship with the characters builds and builds as you experience the challenges and constraints of their circumstances and everything that they have to go through as a result of this voyage into the unknown…
The River Reflects asks us to think about the way that our personalities evolve through, because of and despite of all our experiences and doesn’t allow us to dismiss these characters as merely fictional – The bleakness of the tale and some of the ideas behind it as a real sense of the darkness and light within humanity and because it’s so immersive I found its difficulties very rewarding and couldn’t stop thinking about the rhythm of its narrative and the way that Victor haunted my thoughts even when I wasn’t reading the book.
This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its pace and the way it really made me think. I can’t wait to see what Mark Godfrey does next. The idea that life can be a lot darker than you might think on the surface and I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion and comment and make you think about the prose itself rather than merely discussing the next plot point, a beautifully written book that remains with you and that I’ll definutely return to and re read some sections of it as I enjoyed the writing so much
Buy yourself a copy and discover this hypnotically realised story for yourself
Writer On The Shelf
Mark Godfrey was born in Chiswick, London and brought up in west London and Cheshire. He lives in Heaton Moor, Stockport. He is an award-winning short story writer.
The River Reflects is his first novel.