Posts Tagged With: Contemporary Fiction

The Fall of Charlie Dixon by David Couldrey

Title: The Fall of Charlie Dixon
Author: David Couldrey
ISBN: 978-1780883120
Publisher: Matador
First Published: September 2012
No .of pages: 208

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
The Fall of Charlie Dixon follows the eponymous Charlie and his friends as they react to the turbulent events of the Noughties. From 9/11, via the War on Terror and the 7/7 bombings in London, history looms large in their lives. As terrorist attacks overshadow the decade, more and more of Britain’s youth are pulled into the murky world of anger, violence and Islamophobia. When Charlie falls for the girlfriend of the leader of The Defence of The Realm League, he is inexorably drawn into the chaos that ensues. As the League becomes ever more violent, it becomes clear that some won’t survive the decade. Exploring the various trials of adolescent friendship, betrayal and love against the backdrop of the time, The Fall of Charlie Dixon is both a cautionary tale and a black comedy.

This novel is billed as a black comedy and it’s rare to see it pulled off this well when the subject matter involves real-life incidences that are still incredibly raw in the minds and hearts of the entire world. That’s not to say this book is hilarious – far from it – it’s more a sardonic smile at how weak the human spirit can be and how cowardice can lead to the downfall not only of the coward, but those around him.

There’s no getting away from the fact that much of the story is pretty grim. There’s a childhood marred by being easily led and too selfish to stand up for right; a youth wasted by boredom; and tragedies on all sides when the world is apparently falling apart in the wake of terrorist attacks, both in America, and here on British soil.

It’s hard read without thinking back to how one felt during the attacks and the aftermath, and each reader is forced to examine how he or she would have reacted in each situation. I can promise you will shake your head at many of the decisions made by Charlie Dixon, but you will keep reading anyway, because, coward as he is, he is still a likable character, and you will probably find, like I did, that you desperately will him to make good before you reach the final pages.

It’s dark. It’s very dark. But Couldrey manages to ensure it’s never depressing, instead making one appreciate what is good in life and resolving to make things better. And that can only be a good thing.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Truth About Fairy Tales by K T Casha

Synopsis (from back of book):
Think passion is all over once you hit forty? Well, think again. Jaded after a series of failed relationships, Cate McCormack’s channeling her “inner romantic” into her very successful books. Author of a series of contemporary takes on traditional fables and legends, Cate’s surprised to find herself caught up in her own fairytale as two “princes”, one young and handsome and the other rich and powerful, vie for her affections. Head battles with heart as Cate slays the twin dragons of public perception and dented self-esteem to assert her right to her very own happy ending.

I don’t usually go for romances, but the fairytale angle was the part that initially piqued my interest, as I’m very much into in folk and fairy tales, and I was drawn to the idea of life imitating art. Fortunately, what I found between the covers was a warm (but not fuzzy!) romance, that didn’t paint life as pink and fluffy in any way; instead, it highlighted the problems in a relationship with quite a difference in age and background between the couple.

The characters weren’t “too good to be true” and there was no guarantee that everything would come to a fairytale, “…and they all lived happily ever after.” In fact, it was this very point, that the characters were so down-to-earth, that kept me reading – I got interested in the lives of these people and came to think of them almost as friends.

The story was sweet without being sugary and there were enough trials and tribulations thrown in everyone’s paths without it seeming too much; decisions were made and consequences followed on – all very true to the ethos of fairytales – but there was occasionally a harder edge and a tendency towards sadness without it swamping into melancholy.

Overall, it is an uplifting tale of not just overcoming our differences, but actively embracing them; and also to follow your heart where it may lead.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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