If there is such a thing as an essential summer read, it is Rusbridge’s atmospheric Rook. Whether one reads it under the shade of a tree or indoors on a rainy day with a vat of tea, the reader will find the story lulling them into a world they will find impossible to completely pull away from.
At dawn every day Nora runs to the sea, she has returned home suddenly believing she can escape her public life as a cellist but finds herself ever more trapped in music as well a strained mother-daughter relationship. It is when she discovers a dying baby rook that the reader finally understands the somewhat silent protagonist by witnessing her nurturing side.
Rusbridge draws our attention to the importance of history and the human desire to dig it up and uncover it for what it really is. She does this by setting the novel in the quiet Sussex town of Bosham which is steeped in history; the opening is a battle scene in mid-eleventh century and is craftily bookended in the same appropriate manner. As well as reveling in the past, the town’s as well as Nora’s, there is a constant sense of impending doom as the towns’ people watch out for the wind and tide which threatens to flood their town. As Bosham’s buried history is in danger of being exposed one realises that sometimes it is best to leave things buried.
Rook, just as Rusbridge’s previous novel The Devil’s Music is beautiful, poetic and entrancing in such a hypnotic manner that it plays almost the same tune as Woolf’ The Waves on which Woolf wrote , ‘I am writing to a rhythm and not to a plot’ . This dynamic of literature taking on a melodic tune allows ones brain to operate on an almost different level of reading, it is one in which the reader is rarely invited to and so it is exhilarating and liberating when they are.
Beyond a family with secrets, the reader is invigorated by the scenery in which they have been drawn into. Everything vibrates to the beat of the waves and even the colour of the sand. Rusbridge is a wonderful writer and one that the reader will return to time and time again whilst eagerly waiting for that next novel.
Rook by Jane Rusbridge is published by Bloomsbury Circus £12.99