x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

All Is Song: brothers at the edge

Samantha Harvey manages to coax intrigue from a series of existential dilemmas in this multilayered suburban character study.

Following the critical success of her debut novel The Wilderness, Samantha Harvey presents us with a multilayered character study in All is Song. Set in the suburbs of London, Harvey manages to coax intrigue from the series of existential dilemmas that present themselves before the Deppling brothers, her protagonists.

Suddenly single, 51 years old and homeless, Leonard Deppling seeks refuge with his older brother William, a retired lecturer and activist, who spends most of his days meandering along the path to self-actualisation. Harmless as his choice of pastime may appear, his tendency to slip into trances and unconsciously attract the wrong type of admirers soon has Leonard questioning these habits and the steady degeneration of William’s own family life.

These are themes to be handled with care and Harvey manages that task with enviable ease. Content to take her time spinning her web of complexity around the tension-fraught fraternal bond, hers is a richly nuanced depiction of an unravelling crisis that reinforces her position as a writer of note.