05 September 2013

The Gravity of Birds

After receiving copies from the Reading Agency last night the group reviewed 'The Gravity of Birds' by Tracy Guzeman. I've posted our review here but you can also read it on the Reading Agency website here

How do you find someone who wants to be lost?
Sisters Alice and Natalie were once close, but adolescence has wrenched them apart. Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds; Natalie is headstrong, manipulative – and beautiful.

On their lakeside family holiday, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber. Natalie, however, seems strangely unmoved, tolerating sittings for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered. Decades later, Thomas, now a world-renowned artist, reveals the existence of a portrait of himself with Alice and Natalie from that fateful summer. The sisters themselves have disappeared without a

trace. And Thomas is torn between taking the secrets of the girls to the grave, or using the painting to resurrect the past before it closes up on them all for good…


“I’m sorry for her, Phinneaus. I’m sorry she never had what she wanted. Maybe if she had, she’d have been a different person then, too.” She felt an ugliness, not physical for once, but a black hole swallowing her from the inside. “Something happened at the lake that summer and I blamed Natalie for it, at least in part. She was always the one people paid attention to, the one everybody wanted. When I found out what she’d done, it was easy to hate her. But it doesn’t carry the same weight, does it, thinking you hate someone when you’re a child? You can’t understand until you’re older what people are capable of.”


Tracy Guzeman lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her fiction has been published in Gulf Coast, Vestal Review and Glimmer Train Stories, and performed as part of the New Short Fiction Series Emerging Voices Group Show. The Gravity of Birds is her first novel.


First thoughts were on the cover, the group weren't overly keen on the cover (shown above) and preferred the look of the cover from the authors website (shown on the right) which shows just a bird cage. 

The book itself divided the group, some found it too wordy and difficult to get into and others were polar opposite and enjoyed the descriptions given by the author and were intrigued by the stories not just of the sisters but all the characters. In terms of writing style several members of the group drew comparisons with the Bronte sisters! The authors description throughout leaves little to the readers imagination which can work for and against the story in some parts. 

In general the group enjoyed the story and enjoyed the references to art and birds throughout. Nobody in the group seen the twist at the end coming! We were all very surprised at this being a first novel and several members of the group took a copy away to give to friends and in one case re-read as they enjoyed it so much so we would recommend it. Those that enjoyed the story feel it would be a good winter read to get cosy, comfortable and to be enjoyed over a few nights.

Our next read is Sophie Hannah "A Room Swept White" to be discussed at our meeting on Wednesday 2nd October, Builth Wells library, High St, Builth Wells at 7pm. Their are plenty of copies of this title in the library so you know what to do, go see Sue!