Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Cloths of Heaven- Review

The Cloths of Heaven by Sue Eckstein

When you sit down to read The Cloths of Heaven you should know that you are entering a spider web; a spider web of connections between a vast cast of characters. Ms Eckstein brings the characters to the reader in tiny drips; a scene here, a thought, a bit of dialogue. She is expert at adding layers to give depth. Each time you make a stop at a character a bit more is given, but only a bit, to add flesh and dimension. Nothing is extra, a skip of a line or two will have you missing a connection in the intricate web and a bit of the tale Eckstein is weaving.

The book is set in West Africa and revolves around a group of expatriates. The cast is multitude. There is the cheating high commissioner, Alec, and his equally cheating wife, Fenella; Isobel and Patrick who are some how connected with the British Council and by default a few rungs down on the social hierarchy; the surly, enigmatic Rachel Kayne who works in the cloth shop; Daniel Maddison the new arrival at the High Commission, and the vile, entrepreneur Bob Newpin to name only a few. Back stories hover in England where Daniel’s Aunt Eleanor visits Stanley Shea at the nursing facility where he lives after shooting half of his head away in a failed suicide after his West African servant decides to get married. Isobel and Patrick’s son has moved in with Daniel Maddison’s sister, while Rachel’s grandfather has gone “bush” and appears time and again in half page accounts of his traipsing. Everyone is connected and knocking into each other in delightful ways that can only happen in a novel, but at the same time are what make novels so wonderful.

Ms Eckstein’s talent is in characterisation and dialogue likely from her experiences in play writing. People talking is what seems to interest her. She has had much success with plays having written among others The Tuesday Group, Kaffir Lilies, Laura, and Old School Ties, many of which have been performed on BBC Radio 4.

The Cloths of Heaven is a delightful book, likely you’ll read it at one sitting it's quite difficult to put down once you're pulled in.


Stop by Thoughts from Botswana on Tuesday the 18th of August when the author of The Cloths of Heaven, Sue Eckstein will be here to answer questions about her book and the writing process. If you've read the book and have questions you'd like answered please send them through to me.

See you then!

See the entire blog tour for The Cloths of Heaven below:

27 July Myriad Editions - Publisher of the Week at The Book Depository
28 July Caroline Smailes http://www.carolinesmailes.co.uk/blog/ - review and

interview/comments chat plus giveaway
28 July Sue Eckstein Tuesday Top Ten at The Book Depository
30 July Helen Hunt http://bookersatz.blogspot.com/ – Bookersatz - review
4 August Thoughts from Botswana http://thoughtsfrombotswana.blogspot.com/ – review
6 August Jackie Wills http://jackiewillspoetry.blogspot.com/ - review
9 August Denyse Kirkby http://djkirkby.blogspot.com/ – review, interview and giveaway
11 August Trailing Grouse http://trailinggrouse.com/ – review
13 August Keris Stainton http://keris.typepad.com/ – review
18 August Thoughts from Botswana– interview
20 August So Close http://www.tertia.org/
25 August Sarah Salway http://www.sarahsalway.com/ – review
27 August Bubblecow http://www.bubblecow.co.uk/blog/ – interview re: usefulness of tour

for authors


Miss Footloose said...

I've ordered the book from Amazon.co.uk and it should arrive any day now. Can't wait to read it!

Lauri said...

I hope you love it.

Caroline said...

Great review! I look forward to the interview.

Sue Guiney said...

Sounds great. And what a line-up of blog stops!

Lauri said...

Thanks Caroline and Sue.

Tania Hershman said...

Sounds great! I love all the weavings in and out, I look forward to hearing more from the author about how she did it.

Lauri said...

Tania- come back on the 18th I asked her that very question- how she kept track of all of the characters and their storylines.

Helen Ginger said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. I usually shy away from books with a ton of characters. I have enough trouble sometimes keeping three or four in my head. But I like the idea that characterization and dialogue are the author's forte. Thanks for the recommendation.

Straight From Hel

HelenMWalters said...

Brilliant review. I too loved this book.

Lauri said...

Helen happy you liked the review. Thanks.

Jackharry555 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sweat Shirt Manufacturers said...

we offer best high quality Poloshirts