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Paul Harding – 'Enon' book review

A heavy going, but beautiful ode to love and life

Charlie Crosby has lost his adored only child – 13 year-old Kate – in a bike accident. And his Mrs has left him. Unsurprisingly, we find him spiralling into a filthy demise: addicted to painkillers (which he grinds up with the pestle and mortar which was an anniversary gift to his wife) and whisky (which he quaffs from his daughter’s favourite mug). When his money runs out, he resorts to breaking into the homes of elderly neighbours to steal their medication.

‘Enon’ is not a light read, but in many ways it’s a love story. Charlie – the grandson of the tinker in Paul Harding’s Pulitzer prize-winning debut novel ‘Tinkers’ – aches with love not only for the daughter he must learn to live without, but also for Enon itself, the New England nowhereland that he has grown up in and returned to.

‘Enon’ may not be the first novel to take for its narrative the putrid descent of addiction followed by redemption, but Harding’s lyrical passages and the dream-sequences brought about by Charlie’s noxious cocktail of grief and powerful meds elevate this novel to something more eerily beautiful. It’s ultimately an ode to love and life rather than death.

Paul Harding's new novel 'Enon' is published on September 10 by William Heinemann priced £14.99. Click here to buy a copy.

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