One of the marks of a wonderful writer is that they are able to capture the reader’s imagination from the outset. When Michael wakes up to a clock that reads 15:74, the reader is drawn into the mind of Michael and into the world where he works so hard to make sense of things. So many questions are raised in both Michael’s mind and that of the reader, both directly and by inference, that one is keen to discover the answers.
Albermarle’s writing is delightfully visual. “Out in the street a robust wind played with sparkling beads of the night’s rain.” It is images like this that make reading a book like ‘Michael’ so engrossing: the imagination is regularly fed a delicious morsel that keeps one hungering for more.
Michael is a complex and well developed character. By revealing different layers of his life and personality at different times, the author invites the reader into something of a relationship with the character, developing empathy with him as the story progresses. Quirky and thoughtful, Michael is a man to whom the reader warms very quickly.
The author often leads the reader to contemplate the significance of time, not just in terms of a rogue clock, but also in how we think about time and often disregard it. This adds a layer of reflection to one’s reading of the story, causing one to think about their own relationship with time and deadlines and further engaging them in the premise of the book.
“Round clock faces without beginning or end gave the illusion of infinite repetitions, infinite new chances, while digital clocks showed only how early or late you were for an event in your infinite life. But old instruments like sand or water clocks weren’t shy about telling people that the time runs out, and life together with it.”
At times the story picks up a new strand, which leaves the reader wondering but intrigued until, before long, things fall into place and the fabric of the story begins to be woven together from all those different threads.
The best way to experience this story is to not be set in one’s expectations of what it will be or what it will deliver. Allow the author to stimulate and lead your thinking. The structure of the story, and the story itself, are reminders that life is not predictable or set in stone. Approaching stories, or life itself, with an open mind provides endless possibilities, while closing doors leaves one alone with disappointed expectations.
I very much enjoyed the journey that this story took me on. I’ve awarded it a Silver Acorn.
‘Michael’ by Valerie Albermarle is available on Amazon.