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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, set in Victorian London, Ripple Of Darkness by John Puzey, 13 year old George believes his best friend has drowned, but later he questions the truth and starts to understand how reality and illusion can intertwine.
John Puzey’s A Ripple of Darkness immerses readers in the realities, smells and detritus of working-class Victorian London, taking readers from protagonist George’s birth in 1860, to the traumatic drowning of his best friend in the fetid River Thames, and up to the start of World War I.
Growing up poor in 1860’s London, thirteen year old George experiences a terrible trauma when he believes his friend has drowned in the Thames. Blaming himself, the experiences haunts him and shapes his life, constantly replaying and changing in his memory.
In the 1880’s, George becomes a soldier and fights in the Sudan Campaign, but when another friend killed in battle he is thrown into despair and self-recrimination. Later, with the death of one of his sons and the permanent disability of another, he believes he is being punished for betraying his friends.
Then there is a meeting which leads George to question whether the source of his despair which shaped his life events was even real.
Part of John Puzey’s interest in the Victorian period stems from his great grandfather having lived in London during the time. Adding depth and authenticity to George’s story, Puzey draws from his larger than life ancestor, known events to support his narrative in establishing place and time.
Bursting with tension and drama, and leaving the reader with a number of questions to ponder about what is real and what is not, A Ripple of Darkness is ultimately a tale of friendship, trauma and memories, and how we might reinterpret them at different times in our life.
Children drowning and going missing is never going to be an enjoyable area of research, but although a drowning tragedy sets the scene for the book its main focus is on the traumatic impacts of loss on a working class Londoner from childhood to middle age.
John Puzey was the Chief Executive of the Welsh housing charity Shelter Cymru. A frequent writer, broadcaster and public speaker on housing and homelessness he helped shape a range of key policies, practices, and legislation in Wales. In 2020 he published Two Lives, a story about two men on different sides in the First World War.
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It is also available on the publisher’s website at https://bit.ly/43gM8pA
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