Mind-blowing, in every sense of the way!
A massive thank you to Katherine and No Exit Press for my review copy of Bellevue Square. This review is unbiased and reflects my opinion.
Title: Bellevue Square
Author: Michael Redhill
Date of publication: 23 August 2018
Publisher: No Exit Press
Format: Paperback proof
Number of pages: 286
Jean Mason has a doppelganger.
She’s never seen her, but others* swear they have.
*others | noun. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants – the regulars of Bellevue Square.
Jean lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and two kids. The proud owner of a thriving bookstore, she doesn’t rattle easily – not like she used to. But after two of her customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate. Curiosity grows to obsession and soon Jean’s concerns shift from the identity of the woman, to her very own.
Funny, dark and surprising, Bellevue Square takes readers down the existentialist rabbit hole and asks the question: what happens when the sense you’ve made of things stops making sense?
Some books mess with your head. Their plot is thick and intricate. Their characters are fascinating. There is blood. Whatever makes you tick! Bellevue Square doesn’t fall into the usual awful but riveting crime novels I crave. Bellevue Square made its nest into my reading history and will stay with me for a very long time, uncategorized, raw, beautiful.
Bellevue Square crawled under my skin and had me question my sanity. Then, the world’s sanity. Then my opinion of the world. Then what I thought I knew about the world. Finally, what I knew about myself.
I need to thank No Exit Press for pushing my boundaries and the author, Michael Redhill, for this literary masterpiece.
Now, you must be wondering why so much praise. Read the book!
Okay, I’ll say a little more.
Jean owns a bookstore. We can all agree than a main character being a bookseller is fantastic. The job is less alluring when customers come to you to say they’ve just seen you elsewhere. Either the world is coming to an end or those people should get back on their meds! Still, wouldn’t you be curious if someone mentioned seeing you somewhere else when you KNOW it is impossible? They say curiosity killed the cat, but crime readers know curiosity does a lot more than this!
Bellevue Square takes us on a discovery journey. Can we trust people? Can we trust what we see? Do doppelganger (yes, I had to check that word, it’s too complex for me) exist? The idea freaks me out! I like thinking I am unique in this world. But are we? What if someone exactly like you is living a completely different life, with a different husband, a house, a dog? Would you want to meet her? Talk to her? I probably would be too scared!
But behind this quest Jean embarks on, the author cleverly explores the definition of self. Question everything, don’t trust your eyes, your thoughts, your feelings. Can you? Who are you if your lookalike can replace you? Would someone notice?
With his sharp narrative and brilliantly flowing style, Michael Redhill splashes humour on a tale that kept me awake at night, pondering over existential questions.
Death feels like a fairy tale you never get to hear the end of.
Bellevue Square leaves open doors, gives you breezes and storms, respite and happy moments, but most of all, it offers a window to try and loosen the judgements we are often so eager to make. How can we be so sure of ourselves? Michael Redhill also touches the very important but often misunderstood subject of mental health with a surprising kindness, spot-on descriptions of things we usually struggle to find words for, and most of all a lightness of tone that makes easier for the reader to keep an open mind and heart.
A colorful array of characters bring to life streets and restaurants, parks and houses, turning scenes into familiar settings, adding a layer of authenticity and realism to a powerful and unforgettable piece of fiction.
Remember: Crazy is normal. It’s everyone’s biggest secret.
The novel is available! Get it now! Amazon
Michael Redhill is the author of the novels Consolation, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Martin Sloane, a finalist for the Giller Prize. He’s written a novel for young adults, four collections of poetry and two plays, including the internationally celebrated Goodness. He also writes a series of crime novels under the name Inger Ash Wolfe, one of which, The Calling, was made into a feature film starring Susan Sarandon.