The Roundabout Man by Clare Morrall

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Who is the Roundabout Man?
                He doesn’t look like a tramp, yet he lives on a roundabout in a caravan. He calls himself Quinn, the name of a boy in a world-famous series of children’s books.
                What he hopes no one will discover is that he’s the
real Quinn, immortalised as a child by his mother in her entrancing tales about a little boy’s adventures with his triplet sisters. It is this inheritance he has successfully run away from – until now. When Quinn’s reclusive existence is invaded, he has to turn and face his past, and all the uncomfortable truths it contains.

The Roundabout Man, as the synopsis reveals, relates a tale about a man who engages in self-reflection and reflection on the past he has come from – but there is so much more to this novel than just that. It feels in a lot of ways like a coming-of-age tale, despite the title character being in his sixties. Despite his age, he has ended up living on the fringes of society in an attempt to escape a past which failed to give him any real sense of self or identity. By living this way, he hopes to finally remove himself from his past, a blend of fact and children’s fiction, but it ultimately results in his attempt to discover himself once and for all.

Beyond that, though, this character-driven novel is a careful and delicate examination of the truths and fictions, as well as preconceptions and misconceptions, which people tend to have; not only about others, but about themselves. The ideal family Mumski creates in her fictional novels is contrasted with the hugely dysfunctional family she was so distant from – Quinn, his sisters and fourteen foster children. This is the central point of this examination, and it serves to beautifully illustrate how the people in our lives influence and shape our perception of ourselves.

This novel is elegantly written, a slow-paced tale full of detail. While this definitely encourages this reader to carefully digest the whole thing, I did find it at times a little difficult to push forward because of the slow pace. This, really the only fault I can find, is the reason I’ve given this novel 9 out of 10. All the same, it’s quirky, funny, insightful, and if the pace doesn’t hold you back it is a very rewarding read which I highly recommend.

9/10

Publisher: Hodder

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