Secrets are revealed and summer romances blossom against the backdrop of the 1978 Argentina World Cup. ‘The Coletta Cassettes’ by Bruno Noble takes place on the Kentish family holiday to Colletta, Italy. A working trip for the father, Peter Kentish, as he schedules interviews with an ex-CIA member about the CIA complicity with the mafia and their involvement in the government following WWII. As his secrets are revealed and the extent of their involvement in political events after the war are shared, Peter Kentish’s new knowledge could put himself and his family at risk. Alongside his father’s interviews we follow sixteen-year-old Sebastian, keen to find teenagers his own age and eager to experience a summer romance. He sets his sights on Rosetta, who works as a chambermaid and around the restaurants, and we witness Sebastian’s tentative steps to get closer to her. This book seems to have a mix of everything, historical fiction, espionage inspired by true events, coming of age and family drama. I liked the subtle characterisation that has been used by the author, we learn a lot about Peter and Jacqueline Kentish through Sebastian’s eyes, the dawning realisation that his parents can be snobby, aloof and stubborn. I also liked the clumsy nature of Sebastian and Rosetta’s interactions and the naivety of Dominic that adds humour to most moments throughout the book. I found Sebastian’s narrative more engaging that Peter Kentish’s interviews and I found myself thinking “is that it?” as we see where the evidence of Peter’s interviews ends up - surely he would still be at risk based on the information he remembers from those conversations? I would have preferred a comment that it is the evidence of his interviews with Bravo that put him at risk to make this more believable. Overall this is an engaging summer read which I think would have a broad appeal. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
‘A Thing of the Moment’ by Bruno Noble is a philosophical tale of identity. Through the lives of the three main characters, the reader is taken on a journey, an exploration, of the varying nature of the self. Isabella has the more distressing storylines of the three, having experienced abuse and exploitation at the hands of her father and the death of her mother that leaves her ever more vulnerable. I found Isabella’s storyline quite harrowing, there’s such a sinister atmosphere from the start of her narrative. I experienced an extra dimension of revulsion due to a keen dislike for butterflies and Isabella’s father’s interest in Lepidoptery. Isabella experiences a separation between the mind/soul and the body as a coping mechanism for her trauma that leads her to make decisions later in life to take back the feeling of control over her body. Sharon’s story evoked in me great pity and sadness. A middle child, being brought up in hand-me-downs and overlooked by most of her family, she lacks any sense of her own identity, with her need for affection leading her to be a people pleaser. I found Sharon uncertain of who she is and what she wants, keen to take on the persona of those closest to her Mie has been brought up in Japanese culture, which encourages tradition and conformity. Eager to leave and establish her own sense of individualism, Mei dreams of moving to England. In contrast to Isabella and Sharon’s upbringings, Mei has supportive and encouraging parents but still finds herself feeling alone, apart from her peers in Japan, and notable when Sebastian visits her house, still not being “quite Western” despite embracing a lot of the Western way of life. ‘A Thing for the Moment’ is a character-driven story. Through these three characters, their interaction with themselves and the cast of supporting characters we have an opportunity to evaluate the different ways in which identity and a sense of self can be lost and carved out again. Not being a student of philosophy I may have perhaps noticed a fraction of the philosophical ideas throughout the book, but that was more than enough to give pause for thought as I read. I found this a thought-provoking and complex literary story, with some moments of levity offered to shine a much needed light on the darker and more serious themes. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A Thing of the Moment is a narrative meditation on the subject of identity recounted in the first person singular by three women whom we follow from childhood to early adulthood, from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. It comprises their three interwoven stories... of how one girl deals with parental rejection, of how another emigrates from Japan in order to leave a strait-jacket society and of how a third deals with sexual abuse. I studied philosophy at university. There, I read the rationalists and the empiricists, champions of the worlds of ideas and of things, respectively, and grappled academically with the mind/body split conundrum. I was thrilled (and horrified) to meet someone who 'lived' that dichotomy - that I had encountered so purely intellectually - as a means of coping with sexual abuse, as in, "e;this didn't happen to me, it happened to my body."e; This is what I explore in half-German, half-English Gaia, a young girl with a predisposition to see herself from the outside and to leave her body at moments of physical stress... I travelled to Japan where, in this most conformist of societies, one acquaintance stood out for me: a rebel, an individual with the courage to plot an escape to London where, she believed, she could be herself. I considered her as having a 'strong sense of self', by which I refer to the conscious manner in which she took ownership of herself, her decisions, what happened to her, her measured reinventions of herself as her career progressed. Mie is resolute in her determination to allow no man to breach her defences... A young woman I knew confided in me that when she looked in, she saw only a deep black hole... Sharon, by contrast, has no self-worth, 'no sense of self', by which I mean that she can only see herself through the eyes of others. A confused, middle child of Polish/Welsh and Jewish/Catholic parents, Sharon will do anything to be liked... I worked in a bank where I discovered options - financial instruments that could destroy, save or make you, that made 'choice' concrete, that multiplied possibilities, that suggested to me that we have choice in everything we do, that encouraged one to take ownership of a life rather than succumb to determinism. Sebastian is tall, blond and handsome because if I'd made him short, dark and fat, my friends would have thought that he was me. If Sharon is the thread that ties the lives of the three women together, Sebastian is the knot - the bow and the beau - he delivers the climax. Having befriended all three female protagonists, he ties the themes that run through the novel together - the soul, the body, meat, cannibalism, selfhood, sex, choice, the meaning people seek to attach to life and the role of cities in shaping our lives. I wrote A Thing of the Moment as three distinct stories and then rewrote it, on the second occasion writing the women's three stories in about eighty interweaving chapters. I rewrote it a second time, only this time embedding the stories within each other, thinking that that form - boxes within boxes, dolls within dolls - served as a good metaphor for the structure of the self, a reflection of the possible different layers of what constitutes a reflective being, and a hint that maybe the three women are not that different after all but represent three types of person we each could be. And, finally, I rewrote it again, reverting to the second, chronological way but with improvements prompted to me by the third version. How these three distinctive girls go on to become women and think about themselves - or their selves - and go about their lives and their relationships in different ways is, effectively, the story, the tension of which delivers a crescendo of emotional development that I intend to be the reader's too. This first novel is for lovers of literary fiction, for patient readers, for philosophers and pseudo-philosophers, for lepidopterists, for men, for women, for butchers, for bankers, for armchair travellers, for strippers, for options traders, for readers who need to believe that life can get better.
A Thing of the Moment is a narrative meditation on the subject of identity recounted in the first person singular by three women whom we follow from childhood to early adulthood, from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. It comprises their three interwoven stories... of how one girl deals with parental rejection, of how another emigrates from Japan in order to leave a strait-jacket society and of how a third deals with sexual abuse. Sharon has no self-worth - no `sense of self' - she can only see herself through the eyes of others and will do anything to be liked... Japanese Mie has a steely sense of who she is; she takes full ownership of herself, her decisions, what happens to her and how she treats others... Isabella has a predisposition to see herself from the outside and demonstrates her ability to leave her body at moments of physical stress... And then there's Sebastian. While Sharon is the thread that ties the lives of the three women together, Sebastian is the knot - the bow and the beau - he delivers the climax. Having befriended all three female protagonists, he ties the themes that run through the novel together - the soul, the body, meat, cannibalism, selfhood, sex, choice, the meaning people seek to attach to life and the role of cities in shaping our lives. From John Gray's Straw Dogs (2002): The I is a thing of the moment, and yet our lives are ruled by it. We cannot rid ourselves of this inexistent thing.