What I'm Reading
I don't know why this hasn't been written before. A fascinating and disturbing natural anomaly that impacted the whole world. It is also a chilling precursor for climate change.
This book contains six stories from a diverse group of people including writer Mary Shelley and artist John Constable. What links them all is that they all suffered in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption in 1815, the cloud of ash so thick that it blocked the sun and therefore cancelled out the summer of the next year. 1816 became known as The Year Without Summer. This novel blends the effects of an historical event with fictionalised stories, some based on real people.
The dull, sunless weather and the failure of the crops are described and the consequences observed from the perspectives of the six over the year. Some of it is harrowing and pitiful; always well done. Glasfurd has written each of the characters with their own voice making this multiple points of view aspect particularly good. The narrative provides a perfect study of social class at this time.
Some of the stories are more colourful than others. A particularly bright one is the young girl who works at a farm, her tale being told in the first person complete with the local dialect. Others are a bit slow in places. It would have made the book better if it had the been formatted as a collection of short stories instead of the random swapping of chapters, unless all the characters met up at some point. But given their locations it would be unlikely to happen.
A very interesting and well-written book about a far-reaching event in nature. Ironically, the book is published during a pandemic, making it a disturbing prophecy.
Published by Two Roads on 5 March 2020. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.