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Book review: The Coincidence Authority a heartfelt work full of keen observations

Azalea, the young protagonist in JW Ironmonger's acclaimed first novel, The Notable Brain of Maximillian Ponder, returns 30 years later in The Coincidence Authority.

The Coincidence Authority
J?W Ironmonger
Weidenfeld & Nicolson

"One Midsummer's Day, when she was only three years old, the girl they call Azalea Ives was discovered alone and lost at a fairground in Devon ". And so begins The Coincidence Authority by JW Ironmonger, whose first novel, The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, excited critics before being shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. The story picks up some 30 years later when Thomas Post, a lecturer in applied philosophy who is interested in the mathematics of coincidences, has himself become part of Azalea's life and struggles to reconcile the "consequences" and "repercussions" that punctuate her story with his own world view.

Ironmonger's writing is full of keen observations gently made as the narrative jumps in time and place from that Devon fairground to the Isle of Man, central London and a Uganda terrorised by the Lord's Resistance Army. The introduction of the very real Joseph Kony to personify the cruelty of fate tests the reader's credulity but this novel is clever, heartfelt and to be thoroughly recommended nonetheless.

cdight@thenational.ae

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