If you have read more than one review on my blog, you may have noticed I have a thing for the publishing company Tin House. I have found almost all of the books I have read published by them intriguing to say the least. They have topics that are worth discussing and make one think.
The Long Room by Francesca Kay is no different. This is a book that can be discussed, taken apart, examined, and I still think there will be things to be found in it. While I will admit that at times it was a bit slow, the overall premise is what pulled me in.
Stephen is a listener in the 80s. His job is to listen to conversations that have been recorded in people's houses to listen for any talk of espionage. His subjects always have code names to keep from allowing bias.
Stephen is also routine oriented. He has his days planned out he does the same thing day in and day out, and he is a loner.
One day, he gets an assignment to listen to a husband and wife, yet he can only hear the day time portion and not the night time portion. The more he listens, the more he starts to connect with the wife Helen. He becomes so connected, he starts creating a narrative for this couple that may or may not be true. His curiosity becomes obsession and he starts to do things he would not normally do. How far will Stephen take it?
As stated above, Tin House has a way of publishing books that make people think. The whole time reading Kay's book, I kept wondering about conversations, people I knew, and how much I really knew about them. Stephen is in a place where he only gets a piece of the whole, yet creates a whole dialog which is a tiny bit based on truth, but mostly upon his own read into things. At one point, he dismisses a portion of dialog because it didn't fit his narrative.
I also kept thinking about how people approach politics and the idea of narrative. I don't think Kay chose the 80s without reason. It was a time of line drawing, heavy politics, and the beginning of the major split between conservative and liberal. It was the beginning of the political narrative that was taking place in London as well as the US.
What is truth and what is fiction, when you only hear one piece of the story?
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this one, but as stated, it is slower than most of their books. This is a simmer book rather than a boil book. It takes time, but once Stephen's world starts to become unraveled, it takes off.
I gave this one 4 stars.
Here is your Amazon link- The Long Room by Francesca Kay It releases on November 1st, but you can get an import copy now.
*I want to thank Tin House publishing for the ARC of the book. It was given with the intent of receiving an honest review*