BOOK REVIEW – Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor

Reservoir 13 tells the story of many lives haunted by one family’s loss.Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must. As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; field fares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

Rebecca Shaw, a 13 year-old, and her family are on holiday in a village in the Peak District; they have come for the New Year. She goes missing and a search party is set up. People in the village do not know much about the girl, and all they know is “When last seen she’d been wearing a white hooded top with a navy-blue body warmer, black jeans and canvas shoes. She was five feet tall, with straight, dark-blond, shoulder-length hair.”

Reservoir 13 is the first book that I read by this author, and I enjoyed reading it. It is not a regular crime/thriller. It is deeper than that, it takes us through the lives of people over a course of thirteen years. The writing is totally different from the books that I usually read. It took some time to get used to. There are a lot of characters and the author describes every minute detail about these characters. Initially I was overwhelmed by the number of characters, and after 60-70 pages I became familiar with them. I remember majority of the characters, but to be honest there were few smaller ones that did not stay with me for a long time. It was not a quick read for me, but it was definitely worth it.

There are 13 chapters in this book and each chapter describes the events of a year. It all starts with the new year and ends just before the new year. It is written so beautifully, the author gives attention even to the smallest details like cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, etc. A lot happens in those 13 years, marriages happen, marriages fail, babies are born,  people die, new people come to the village, in general things change.

The writing is simple and narrative. There are a lot of repetitions as well, which I am not a fan of, but in this book I didn’t mind. The characters are so well developed, and they are introduced in such a manner that we don’t immediately understand their relationship with the other characters. But we do see that there is some kind of bonding between all the people in the village. We learn a lot from these characters.

The story is gripping. We keep expecting Rebecca’s body to show up just as much as the people in the village. But the story is about how life goes on and how people cope up in the aftermath of a tragedy. It is a wonderfully crafted book, that demands patience. But it is definitely worth it. This book was long listed was this years Man Booker prize.

My Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75

To buy this book, click here.

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (30 April 2017)
  • Language: English

3 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW – Reservoir 13, Jon McGregor

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