The first thing about this book is how wordy it is. I mean, obviously, it’s got words in it, it’s a book for god’s sake (!) but the author, Edward Docx often reels off a forty word sentence where someone else might well use just ten. Normally, this would annoy me and put me off reading the book. But the difference is that these long, wordy sentences are often the best put together, most descriptive and most engaging that I’ve read in a long time.
‘Let go my hand’ is a well-paced, contemplative exploration of a family in crisis, using flashbacks to give the reader some background. There’s nothing new in that. What sets this apart from other dysfunctional family dramas is the reason we’re reading the story. The characters are on a physical journey, to a destination from which one of them may or may not return. One of the main reasons I carried on reading it was to find out if he did or not.
I say that because I very nearly gave up on it on quite a few occasions. There’s so many words! There were at least two in the book which I had never seen before and as I was reading a proper book I didn’t bother finding out what those words meant (i.e. I didn’t have the dictionary function on the Kindle to tell me what they meant). Since then I have gone back to find them, which is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack so gave up after scanning the first 50 pages. (I know, stupid). It doesn’t take long to work out that the author is clearly highly educated and doesn’t mind who knows it. Not that I’m complaining about that. It’s sour grapes, nothing else. But it is a factor when reading it.
The characters are something else as well. Some of them are mainly just unlikeable, but are given such flashes of humanity that I couldn’t help but see them for three-dimensional people. I think making characters who you don’t like but still care about is a skill that’s hard to learn and Docx certainly has that skill. There are however a few seemingly endless existential arguments between some of those characters which I’m not ashamed to admit I skimmed (far too high brow for me).
As well as all that, it’s properly funny. It made me laugh out loud on several occasions with a dark wit that I love. When all else fails, you have to laugh, seems to be the message here and it’s certainly a message I can buy into. Especially given the subject matter. It made me cry too, in a tears rolling down my face without realising it kind of way.
I feel like Edward Docx has poured his heart and soul in to it, and probably felt like a massive weight had been lifted from him once he’d finished it.
It felt like a novel that demanded to be written and in many ways, it’s a novel which demands to be read. Highly recommended.