Sep 10, 2012

Candy Neubert - Big Low Tide

Candy Neubert will be visiting the Litfest to run poetry masterclasses throughout the morning on Friday 14th, Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th. She will also be reading from her new novel at 2pm on Friday at the Guille-Alles Library.

To mark the occasion, the Guille-Alles Reading Group has chosen Candy's new novel Big Low Tide as this month's discussion, and will meet at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 12th.

Set on a fictional island in the English Channel, Big Low Tide is a poetic, heartfelt novel which examines the complexity of families and the difficulties of island life.  The island itself is as key to the story as any of the main characters, and Candy’s omniscient narration creates the effect of a collective island consciousness.

The story centres around the troubles of the broken Duncan family, with mother Brenda working as a barmaid in the town and father Peter taking care of their two boys in the country.  Brenda plans to move in with her new man Gerry and set up a home for the boys with him,  but all is not as straightforward as it may seem.

A cast of drunks, busybodies, playboys and outcasts create a claustrophobic atmosphere that does little to ease their problems, though these are balanced out by the efforts of the island's more friendly inhabitants.  The characters are well-written and feel authentic, and Candy treats them toughly, refusing to give them an easy ride.  Though they may be flawed, most of them remain likeable.

My main criticism of Big Low Tide is that I found the dialogue to be too busy, too often scenes seemed to descend into a jumble of voices.  Candy's poetic style seems more at home when her easy, observational eye is roaming around the island, or when illuminating the tender moments between characters, which stand out as the highlights of the book.

Candy Neubert will be running poetry masterclasses on a one-to-one basis at 10:00, 10:45, 11:30 and 12:15 on Friday 14th, Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September.  To book, phone 07781 143 545.  On Friday 14th she will be reading from her novel Big Low Tide.

The Guille-Alles Reading Group meets at 7:30 on the second Wednesday of every month.  It is free, there is no need to book and a list of topics can be found here.