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All Is Song

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | All Is Song.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Samantha Harvey(Author)

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It is late summer in London. Leonard Deppling returns to the capital from Scotland, where he has spent the past year nursing his dying father. Missing from the funeral was his older brother William, who lives in the north of the city with his wife and three young sons. Leonard is alone, and rootless - separated from his partner, and on an extended sabbatical from work. He moves in with William, hoping to renew their friendship, and to unite their now diminished family. William is a former lecturer and activist - serious, defiantly unworldly and forever questioning - a man who believes that happiness and freedom come only from knowing oneself, and who spends his life examining the extent of his ignorance: running informal meetings with ex-students. Leonard realises he must drop his expectations about the norms of brotherhood and return to the 'island of understanding' the two have inhabited for so long. Yet for all his attempts at closeness, Leonard comes to share his late father's anxieties about the eccentricities of William's behaviour. But it seems William has already set his own fate in motion, when news comes of a young student who has followed one of his arguments to a shocking conclusion. Rather than submit, William embraces the danger in the only way he knows how - a decision which threatens to consume not only himself, but his entire family. Set against the backdrop of tabloid frenzies and an escalating national crisis, "All Is Song" is a novel about filial and moral duty, and about the choice of questioning above conforming. It is a work of remarkable perception, intensity and resonance from one of Britain's most promising young writers.

"The novel is so finely tuned, it is hard to find any passage where she is not fully in control. No matter how dramatic the events she describes, they never drown the ideas being discussed." -- Anna Aslanyan Literary review Samantha Harvey was born in England in 1975. She has lived in Ireland, New Zealand and Japan writing, travelling and teaching, and in recent years has co-founded an environmental charity alongside her writing. She lives in Bath and teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. The Wilderness, her first novel, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2009.

2.4 (6400)
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Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • Samantha Harvey(Author)
  • Jonathan Cape (January 1, 2012)
  • English
  • 2
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Hande Z on January 24, 2012

    Leonard had just taken care of his father's funeral and gone to visit his brother William who did not go to the funeral. William and his wife invited Leonard to stay with them and their two young children. In the brief stay, Leonard learned more about William and began to understand him and his complex mind a little better. Samantha Harvey crafted William's character through his conversations with Leonard, and through Leonard's recollections of their childhood, exploring sanity through William's sharp mind and his resolute refusal to be corrupted by a corrupt world. This was writing at its best. Patience is required to realise the point that Harvey was making, but one will be well rewarded at the end of the book. Attention to the conversations is important and Harvey made it fascinating and thought-provoking at the same time, and has given us a book to be savoured slowly - and perhaps remind us that it is sometimes best not to remember. When Leonard talked about a pond, William posed to Leonard, what if there was a fish in that pond which after years of swimming in it suddenly pops its head out of the water and realised that there was a bigger world out there? What would it do? "Go back under water and forget it ever saw it, probably", Leonard answered. William then said: "Yes, probably. And every time it thinks that the pond is all the world, it'll commit an ignorant error, and it'll go on committing the same error day after day, perhaps all its short futile life."This book draws deep into philosophy, family and friendship. It examines truth generally and why we seek it; whether it matters. It all begins to come together when the police called upon William's home, asking about an arsonist named Stephen - and the possibility of William being an accessory to the crime.

  • By Ralph Blumenau on June 18, 2012

    The book is written in the third person, but from the point of view of Leonard, the younger of two brothers, both in their fifties. He had taken leave from his profession as sixth form teacher of religious studies in London to attend to his frail and widowed clergyman father up in Edinburgh in the last months of his life. The old man had worried about his elder son, William, who had given up paid employment as a university teacher ten years earlier, was now teaching, free of charge and in the Socratic manner, a number of young disciples and had become the champion of radical protest movements, some of which had engaged in the poll tax riots of 1990. His father could not understand him; William had not come to visit him in those last months, nor did he attend his father's funeral.Leonard does not really understand William either. On his return to London their contact is closer than at any time since their childhood. Circumstances had made him move out of the home he had shared with his girl friend, and he had accepted William's offer to move in with him and his family. There is great warmth between the brothers, different though they are. Leonard is only intellectually interested in religions and has no faith in any of them. William is deeply religious, but without adhering to any orthodoxy, casually spartan, eccentric and in some ways quite unworldly. He thinks constantly about how to lead an ethical life. When he is not persistently Socratic in his questioning (not only with his pupils, but in conversation with Leonard and others,- and with himself, too), he expresses himself slowly, mildly, calmly, serenely, quirkily, puzzlingly. He is both close and, at the same time, remote - he cares about people in general, but apparently no more about any one person than about any others in a similar situation - but, above all, he cares about his intellectual and moral integrity, in pursuit of which he spares neither himself nor his family.I am interested in faith, in doubt and in ethical dilemmas; but I found this book heavy going, very slow to develop, in parts stodgily written, and there is a great deal of padding: over and over again, for instance, about the weather and the seasons, or about Leonard looking out of the window. There are, I am sure, many profundities and symbolisms in the book which I have been unable to fathom (the title for one). I could not became engaged in the issues until, intermittently, during the last fifth of the book, when William's teaching - or rather the way his teaching had been misinterpreted - has led him into danger, and when his personality leads him to counter that danger in a very idiosyncratic way. He is part Socrates and part Christ - both martyrs in the end. (D.Dean's review on Amazon UK is particularly good on the echoes of the Christ story.) Ultimately his philosophical questions had not only been misinterpreted by others, but had (in my view) led him into the kind of foolish conclusions that only philosophers sometimes reach. Is he in fact entirely sane?


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