A beautiful hard cover book is always a temptation for me. I had heard so much that I needed to read this novel. There has been so much buzz about it, and I must admit, when there's a buzz book, I attempt not to read it until I absolutely must.
The Age Of Miracles was, because of this 'talking up', lighter than I expected, in respects. If I had read it to escape work, at the height of my busy period (aka now), I might have found it not enough of a draw, but as it was I read it over the holidays, taking my time, forgetting all obligations. There is a light, ephemeral touch to the novel that makes it surprisingly dreamy, and - if I can use this word in this context - intangible. It's not a meaty book, it's a book you slip into, like water.
In any case, I must have loved this book, because I read it within the space of a few hours. And it was such a pleasure. Like I imagine a cool glass of a smooth drink on a warm day, it was immensely digestible. Using the water allegory again, I found myself being sucked it by a tide, and enjoying the feeling of being drawn under.
What Thompson Walker did best for me was create a world I could imagine myself in. I could not only see what Thompson put in front of me, but I could feel the wind, taste the air and imagine what would be behind me if I turned around. The story is set in suburbia, in a world of similar homes, kids' baseball leagues, married parents; a world where hippies and a single woman living alone across the street are notably unusual occurrences, particularly when the proportions of everything - the whole world in fact - are changing.
The Age Of Miracles begins the day the earth's movement slows. Minutely at first, the slowing continues, until the nights are deathly cold and the days burn skin cells cancerous. These effects - and many more - impressed me. Thompson Walker had obviously researched and thought in great, beautiful detail about the many consequences such an event would have, and how those would effect human life.
As the earth slows, our protagonist, a teenage girl, falls in love for the first time. Set against the backdrop of a dying world, the story is a time capsule, the reader's reaction heightened because we know that inevitable doom awaits.
I'm a sucker for anything written in an adult voice but set in late childhood. When innocence rubs up against experience is when sparks begin to fly and epiphanies emerge. It's also when you fall in love with loves that rarely last.
If there was anything negative to be said about this book it's that it felt a little like the setting of a scene with nothing particularly dramatic played out on it. Obviously the scene - where the earth slows in its turning and humankind is in danger - is dramatic, but the way we see it, in a reactionary suburbia, meant that it didn't feel big to me.
I felt this was appropriate for the book, but I wanted to see more. I felt I'd been introduced to characters I wanted to follow for years, and it was done so cleverly and with such simplicity. Suddenly I was in love with everyone... so not really a bad point!
SPOILER ALERT: What happened to Seth? And Sylvia? What was going on in the heads of Julia's parents? Did they ever leave the home?
In summation, The Age Of Miracles is a very enjoyable book, and worth reading - even just to catch up on where the publishing industry is 'at'!
I'd recommend tearing through it and letting yourself sink into its world for the afternoon.