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The pier glass - Nia Williams

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The pier glass
Nia Williams
Paperback / softback
UK Publication Date

A gripping novel set in the city of Cardiff which interweaves the memories and dreams of a rich array of characters from the past and present as they explore their identities while recording the complex stories of their lives.

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This debut novel weaves a series of disparate narrative threads to achieve a satisfying whole. We are introduced to a poet-seer setting off to the battle of Bosworth, whose visions come straight out of Hieronymus Bosch. James Powell too shares this visionary gift, although his battle is with biography. He is writing about Ieuan Gloff, the self-same battle-bound bard, and writes about him and his travelling kind with wonderful insight:

?The medieval poet was a spin-doctor, a search-engine, a prophet, an entertainer.? James himself is involved in oral history and as we see him conducting his interviews about the way we were we realise that people choose what they want to say, even to historians, just as with the police. This novel also offers a memorable definition of an historian, who is ?a gambler, dealing in probabilities. In describing and analysing a past event, he or she does no more than place a bet.?

Then there is Livvy - a classical musician - falling for Gal, the creative writing tutor and Cat Simner, pregnant and seeking sanctuary from a doomed relationship ? and her pregnancy ? by looking up old flame James. And then there?s Charles Lightfoot, one of James?s oral history project interviewees, who is taken ill, which gives him cause to ponder upon the loves which lie as shipwrecks on the beach which is his past. There is a question he cannot face but has to if he is to make peace with his brother. Can he?
One of them slept with the wrong woman, but Charles can?t remember whether it was him or not. Memory is a box of tricks, or maybe a selection box.

Interlocking, interdependent, these are accounts of lives which mean nothing if they mean nothing to anyone else. Together they show how lives chime against each other and how personal histories, like history, repeat themselves. But this is a novel also about war, family, writing and a city, or rather two cities, Cardiff and London, in that order.
The Pier Glass is an elegantly written, confident appearance by a writer who already knows how to turn words into a world. Such as Charles Lighfoot?s animated description of his childhood home full of ?noise and mood ? a vibrating box, pulsing with waves of panic, resentment and provocation.? Glad he was the one who lived there!
Jon Gower @

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