Thursday, November 28, 2019

Book Review: 'Uncommon Relations' by Rosalind Minett

Uncommon Relations by Rosalind Minett

‘Expected, excepted; words so near, yet so far apart’

British author Rosalind Minett began her career in the arts as a dancer - in RADA (for those outside the UK, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) - but switched directions when she studied psychology at Birmingham, Sussex and Exeter universities and became a Psychologist. This combination of experience offers her the ability to crawl inside the psyches of her characters while creating a proscenium arch setting in intricate details for her chosen subject - whether writing comedy, historically influenced novels or crime tales - before enjoying a career as a chartered psychologist. She is successfully able to wear the twin masks of comedy/tragedy and still maintain a rather phenomenal sense of finding the humor in the worst of situations and the compensatory dark side of the best of incidents. She is a hell of a fine writer!

Making use of her experience as a psychologist coupled with her obvious gifts as a writer, Rosalind has created a novel she terms ‘contemporary psychological fiction’ and the story is indeed mesmerizing and penetrating as well as insightful and marvelously entertaining to read. Her Prelude suggests a dark tone to come. ‘…Here they were at the start of a story, and he, the man of the house, was not the main character nor even one who would figure in the action. He was tangential to other people’s stories. This wasn’t a bitter thought, just the kind of resigned bystanding a man adopts when all the family is on his wife’s side. He was without parents or siblings, even his country a distant memory, and had no children himself. His lovely wife had proved infertile. They’d taken on the child of her inconsequential sister who’d produced too many children, and here she was, his delightful daughter, bouncing a little baby, hers, but not by birth…His thoughts were on the unfairness of reproduction. For this dear child, his wife’s blond niece, delivered in her teens she’d inherited the chromosomal abnormality causing infertility. Was that the reason his girl had developed a preference for her own gender? Or did it reflect on his fathering – that he was no model for his daughter to seek a partner?...’ 

The story is complex, in a good way, and as this is Part One of the series it is wise to present the plot: ‘28 yr old Terry, named "Yesterday's Man" by his mate, Leon, nurses fantasies of a life more exciting than marriage or job provide, but then an amazing encounter changes his life forever. His double outshines everything that’s gone before. He charges home to tell his shadowy wife, Gudrun, who is too preoccupied with her sculpture and her social work to listen. What is she mysteriously hiding, and why? In frustration, Terry secretly starts his search for identity but this opens a Pandora’s box of information he cannot handle. Now it's so difficult to reverse the bizarre situations he's created. Misguidedly, he discloses past secrets to Leon, a moonlighting illusionist. Leon conjures up revelations that Gudrun cannot face, while confused Terry is trapped into disastrous acts. Will he ever discover what he needs to know? Is Gudrun a heroine, a victim or a packet of trouble?’ 

Stunning writing this, with a hint of the mystique that lies in the following pages. The difficulty? Waiting for the next volume to consume! Highly Recommended – as are all of Rosalind’s books! 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.