An intelligently observed, thought-provoking and emotionally intimate novel that looks at a London community over the course of a year.
Our January 2021 Book Club Recommendation
A complete joy of a debut, bright, observational and incredibly intimate, this book has lodged itself in my heart. Take twelve independent yet linked stories over twelve months about people who are connected to a London park community. The focus changes with each month, allowing individual stories to shine, yet they add up to a vibrantly wonderful whole. Gemma Reeves is beautifully eloquent, she has the ability with a few words, to give you admittance to someone’s soul. While she creates penetrating access to each person, there isn’t always a conclusion, instead life carries on, suggesting potential pathways. I fell in love with this powerfully blended infusion of life. The variety of characters, in age, personality, and beliefs crackle with energy. A new character might wander in for a few moments and then star in the next tale. Some connections may be obvious and linger, others lightly touch before moving on. The stories themselves tug at heartstrings and encourage thoughts to roam, the ending is simply divine and brought tears to my eyes. Thought-provoking and emotionally intelligent, Victoria Park slips with glorious ease onto our LoveReading Star Books list and is a Liz Pick of the Month, it really is very special indeed.
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona's declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.
|Publication date:||7th January 2021|
|Publisher:||Allen & Unwin|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
A brilliant novel examining the society in which we live.
Victoria Park is an extraordinary novel about how ordinary people live their lives. It takes a compassionate yet also analytical look at twelve near neighbours and their interactions in the course of one year. It is told through the individual perspectives of the different characters. The first chapter charts Mona and Wolfie as they approach their sixty fifth wedding anniversary which coincides with Mona's increasing dementia. There is a house robber, a couple going through IVF treatment and a mother reading her daughter's diary - so there are quite a few differing viewpoints and philosophies of life, the link between them being their proximity to Victoria Park.
I would say this is definitely a novel for today's times. with some beautifuly expressive writing that takes the reader straight to the heart of what it means to be part of a community. This is definitely a good read if you want to understand how other people live their lives and how they cope with difficult situations.
Really enjoyable story introducing and linking the residents of a London neighbourhood, around the central theme of their local park.
This was an interesting story featuring members of a diverse community, all living in an area of London in close proximity to the fictitious Victoria Park.
The book is divided into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year and each chapter features one of the various families who make up the community.
It starts and ends with the story of Wolfie and Mona, who are struggling with Mona’s worsening dementia. We also meet Mia and Bettie, a lesbian couple, going through the traumas of IVF in an effort to have their own family. There are many more characters, all well drawn and credible, and they have tenuous links to each other, although each chapter is a short story in its own right. I really enjoyed this book. It’s constructed in an unusual way and contains a lot of characters, which I sometimes find confusing, but not in this case because of the way in which they were introduced.
This is Gemma Reeves' debut novel - based on this one, I would certainly read more of her work.
The realisation of alienation and connection between residents in a disparate and culturally diverse area, was spot on.
Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves is a very cleverly written novel with a unique concept, focusing on twelve resident's stories, each one reading like they are an individual novella.
The twelve chapters, which are set out in the months of a year, connect all the characters who reside around Victoria Park in London. The book opens with Mona and Wolfe, who have lived on the park for over fifty years. It’s the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary and Mona’s Alzheimer’s is steadily getting worse. By the end of the book, we return to Mona and her declining health and I thought it a fitting ending to a collection of intertwining tales of diverse and very much real life people.
The author has captured a fantastic insight into contemporary urban life and emotional experiences that define our personalities. This is certainly a no holes barred, non sugar coated view of life, portraying definitely that we are not all alike. The realisation of alienation and connection between residents in a disparate and culturally diverse area, was spot on and if your preferred reading genre is the study of characters and their feelings and emotions to various life themes, you’ll fully appreciate this book and it’s portrayal of a London park life community.
Very emotionally written book of interlinking short stories.
I'm not usually a reader of 'short stories' as such, preferring a single novel that I can get lost in with no stops or starts, but what I loved with this book was the continual interlinking of the characters and the way you discovered additional information about a person's character through the eyes of someone else. It also made it very easy to read and I finished it within days.
I loved the author's emotion behind this book, it was palpable throughout and this book was just a beautiful gift of observational writing - it was contained and controlled throughout and yet it totally exploded with feeling.
I loved too that the book started and ended with the same person and yet when I discovered the changes that had taken place in their life within the months covered in the book it was very moving.
This author has a wonderful grasp of storytelling, she has an easy way with words and phrases that resonate and I loved it.
Thank you for giving me the chance to read this book.
A compelling read of intermingling lives and stories.
Reminiscent of Maeve Binchy, but with a lot more edge and modernity.
Victoria Park revolves around the residents of a London community. Each chapter focusses on a different person and their stories which then connected and interlinked. From the cantankerous old woman who watches the world go by from her window, to the cross dressing teen; the unsatisfied wife, to the former drug addict. Not forgetting the married couple of 65 years who are struggling to manage with dementia.
Each character is very well developed with lots of detail and full personalities. It may have been nice to have a few less characters to concentrate on so that we could find out even more about them. It could also have been nice to know more about how each of their stories end. However, I did enjoy the wide variety of people and each of their tales, I just wanted to know more details! The stories joined together and flowed seamlessly into one another. Characters were believable, well rounded, and interesting. I'd definitely read more by this author.
Hugely empathetic, utterly absorbing and beautifully told, Victoria Park really captures something so bittersweet and so true about the struggles and joys that ebb and flow through all of the relationships that hold us together. -- Naomi Ishiguro, author of ESCAPE ROUTES
I absolutely loved Victoria Park. It's a stunning portrayal of a London community, where moments of heartbreak, sympathy and joy cast deep reverberations. A triumph of compassion and redemption, the lives of the characters are so finely observed, they might be our own. It reminded me of Elizabeth Strout and Jennifer Egan, and I know I'll be thinking about Wolfie and Mona for months to come. -- Elizabeth Macneal (author of THE DOLL FACTORY)
A writer who exudes a generous playful intelligence, such bright, wise wit. Everything on the page is alive, each paragraph a fresh adventure - her writing gives a pure and rare pleasure. -- Samantha Harvey, bestselling author of THE WESTERN WIND