**This review is SPOILER FREE**
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher, though NetGalley, but all opinions are, as always, solely my own.
Elmet, follows Daniel, a young boy, who lives with his Daddy and sister, Cathy, in a house they have built for themselves, in isolation.
I wanted to read this because it was shortlisted for the ManBooker 2017, and then it was (as I write this review) long listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018, so my expectations were pretty high. Considering Mozley is a debut author, I summarised that this had to be a pretty special book, and while I don’t find myself adoring the book, I did really enjoy it.
The concept of isolation was without a doubt a prominent theme in Elmet, which is no surprise considering the blurb. Early on the two children stop going to school, meaning that this family really lives in a bubble of isolation, and seem to live idyllic lives. This created a very simple, but immersive world, that was all too easy to get caught up in
However is is explored not only through the family unit of Daniel, Cathy and Daddy, but also how it impedes social gender constructs. Daniel does not fit the “mould” of a boy, especially notable when compared to Daddy, who is very much the expectations of a self-sufficient man. In fact Daniel, really seems the more feminine in the family unit. This act of skewing expected gender stereotypes creates an interesting question of identity. This in turn asked us to question how certain acts are viewed through this lens of gender constructs, i.e. how we might judge the sight of a man looking at a woman, and a woman looking at a man very differently, even though both objects of the look could be shirtless. I wish there was more of this discussion, which would have given Mozley an opportunity to really delve deeper into this topic and draw subsequent conclusions.
Elmet definitely had echoes of Wuthering Heights, in it’s depiction of isolation, and also in the northern setting, but it also reminded me of something else that I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on. Early on in my reading experience I compared it to A History of Wolves, another contender on the shortlist, however they are to different stories. Admittedly, I enjoyed A History of Wolves, just a fraction more than Elmet. In addition I felt that it had echoes of Biblical stories, and drew on the concept of the Garden of Eden, and how one false stem can bring the walls crumbling around them.
Even though it was a reasonably quick read, the prose being very accessible and reader friendly, potentially because of the youth of the narrator, the plot is rather slow. This is my no means a negative comment, as I was always eager to read the next chapter. However the final chapter in the cabin, which is the culmination of this slow burning aggravation between two of the characters, did feel a little over the top in comparison to the rest of the plot. Again, that’s not to say that I did not find it exhilarating.
Ultimately I enjoyed read Elmet, and though it’s not something that I can see myself rereading over and over again, I would love to read her next book, and the one after that.
Thanks for reading,