Deep Down: the 'intimate, emotional and witty' 2023 debut you don't want to miss

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Deep Down: the 'intimate, emotional and witty' 2023 debut you don't want to miss

Deep Down: the 'intimate, emotional and witty' 2023 debut you don't want to miss

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In prose with a spareness conveying the numbness of early bereavement, Deep Down shuttles between present and past, as well as between Tom and Billie’s very different but equally vulnerable perspectives. When the narrative loops back to the protagonists’ earlier lives, her observations of the nine to five are hilariously unforgiving: “At work, Billie spends most of her time with Martin, her direct superior, a lumpy man of about forty-five with back problems that he refers to as often as possible. Billie, who has a ‘plain, mashed potato sort of face’, lives in London, while Tom (a failed actor, whose only success was in a Christmas advert) has moved to Paris to work in a bar. Even so, they didn't spend that much time together and they were cordial the entire time so it felt like the tension was diluted. But not many can emotionally sucker punch you with one sentence and have you in tears of laughter the next.

Imogen handles complicated family dynamics and the unspoken things that come between us with remarkable sensitivity and insight, as well as perfect dark humour that is so much a part of navigating grief. Such crispness could have given the narrative a slightly sneering edge, but West-Knights’ quiet focus on the vulnerability of her lead characters grounds the novel in a more humane place.

A slow burn portrayal of how families can pull us apart but also how two siblings can find their way back to each other and to themselves.

What initially seem to be the hallmarks of any repressed family – an inability to discuss death; tensions between divorced parents; a repeated insistence that everyone is ‘fine’ – become, as the novel unfolds, something far more disconcerting. I agree with one reviewer who said that the author is a 'human story- teller' but disagree that she is 'hilarious' as I didn't find much humour in the book. When their explorations lead them to the infamous Paris catacombs, they will finally be forced to face the secrets lurking in their past that illuminate the questions in their present.

Dazed by grief, the siblings spend days wandering the streets, both helping and hurting each other in the process.

Even if Tom had been a failed drama student but had some sort of redemption in this regard the constant poking at his degree may have felt slightly less like deja vu. There was potential for some interesting explorations on family dynamics, domestic violence and complicated grief, but that didn't happen here. If you like stories of family, friendship and the power of grief I certainly wouldn’t be saying no this novel!I couldn't believe this was a debut novel, it certainly pulled at my heart strings and bought reality back to life. Anyone who knew of Imogen West-Knights as one half of the pitch-perfect satirical Twitter account Bougie London Literary Woman might have made assumptions about how her first novel would look: perhaps a smart, witty comedy skewering pretensions in the world of media or publishing.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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