Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#review When in Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes by Greg Lazarus

Title: When in broad daylight I open my eyes
Author: Greg Lazarus
Publisher: Kwela Books, an imprint of NB Publishers, 2012

I have to laugh. The moment I tried to explain to my friends what the title of the book I’m reading was I couldn’t. So I just kept saying “this really cool book with the very long title”. And I said as much on my Twitter feeds until the author chimed in and suggest I should just call this novel WIBDIOME. I had to laugh. Yes, When in… has a Very Long Title.

Long titles aside, Greg Lazarus is the name for the talented husband-and-wife writing duo, Greg Fried and Lisa Lazarus. And, as if to echo the main characters in this novel, Greg really is a philosopher and Lisa a psychologist. So, when I cracked open the book I suspected I was going to be in for a thought-provoking work of fiction. I’m happy to report my initial opinion wasn’t disproved.

Set in Cape Town, When in… is told from the dual perspectives of Maria, a psychologist, and Kristoff, a philosopher. Without giving spoilers, these two begin a carefully choreographed dance around each other as readers are gradually drawn into their worlds.

But Maria and Kristoff’s tales plays out against a bigger backdrop—of Maria’s mother’s story. Claudia was a prominent astrologer linked to a mysterious esoteric order, and whose motivations for committing suicide aren’t immediately clear. Her relationship with her daughter seems almost ambivalent, and when the dark past is revealed, no less tragic.

Maria finds that, even beyond the grave, that her mother has an impact on her life, a fact that she resents but finds herself unable to avoid.

Kristoff, at a glance, is cold and manipulative, and appears to gain great pleasure out of toying with women’s emotions. As the story progresses we discover why he engages in such casual cruelty. As a reader, at times, I wanted to slap the man for being the way he is, yet although some of his actions are morally reprehensible, he is nonetheless fascinating to observe.

In conclusion, When In… is a novel about power, and the games people play with each other, both inside and outside the bedroom. The authors’ combined style offers fast-paced and crisp prose, which kept me guessing right until the end. Although there were one or two points where I felt they withheld viewpoint character information a bit too much, they successfully communicate sinister, simmering tension and a sting in the tail that made me gasp.

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