I’m delighted to be the final stop on the Black Water blog tour, Doughty has written a book that is powerful, personal and political, what an experience reading this one was!
From the back cover:
John Harper lies awake at night in an isolated hut on Bali, listening to the rain on the roof and believing his life may be in danger.
The present is uncertain; the past at his heels.
As the sounds of the night close in around him, the question he asks himself is this: what is more terrible – the future that lies in wait, or the past that is catching up with him?
I can’t recall a time I’ve read a book that brought such a calmness over me, in the sense that I was fully captivated by this story, it felt so personal, raw in its delivery. Told in three parts; part one and three are set in 1998, Harper, on enforced leave after a grave error of judgement, finds himself at a crossroads, haunted by the past, daring to believe he might have a future. Part 2 details Harper’s life from 1942-65, sharing his childhood and his time working as a government operative. While this is a political novel focusing on the instability of Indonesia and war on the communists during this time, it is also so much more than that.
It’s an in-depth character study, Harper’s journey to redemption and the possiblity of love.
“You can’t run from the sadness inside you all your life, Nicolaas. Don’t you realise you just take it with you?”
Your past is never far behind you and it will eventually catch up with you. And when it does, can you face what you’ve done or will it destroy you? Never in-your-face action but an intensely personal story, in which you really get to know Harper. I can’t explain the exact feeling that this book evoked in me, it was like a dark, calm, sadness washed over me, and it was just me, Harper and our thoughts. Doughty has also weaved a suspenseful undercurrent into this story, the more you read, the more you hope the rain doesn’t fall because you’re not sure Harper can survive the rain, the weather is so unpredictable and it could change at any time, and if the weather changes, so could Harper’s fate (read this book and this will make perfect sense).
Everything in this book is subtle, quiet with a beautiful sadness to it. A slow-burner that surprised me with its personal nature. The slow pace remains throughout, you don’t have to be a fan of political novels to enjoy this one, this story is character driven, driven by John Harper, you feel his desperation. Doughty has written a powerful story that moved me in a way I haven’t experienced before.
*My thanks to Faber & Faber for providing me with a copy of this book*
Previous stops on the blog tour