Orla Broderick’s debut novel The January Flower
After reading a lot of prose that comes through the door for review, you tend to settle in to being accepting of a certain standard of writing. We’ve had lots of books that I’ve read and plenty that have been highly readable, well-formulated, well-written, all that kind of thing, some have been extremely good, but when I sat down and started reading Broderick’s novel it was with a kind of surprise, surprise at myself that I’d forgotten what prose can be. Tons of people can write, a lot of people can write well, plenty of people can write poetry, but there’s not many people who can write such poetry running through each sentence. You are carried along on the back of her writing, quietly burbling with pleasure and happy contentedness. I almost wasn’t bothered what happened in the story, I was enjoying myself too much. The story is perhaps slightly long-winded, although only slightly. It’s not a page-turner where you’re dying to know what happened next – at least not until the book’s defining crisis which comes towards the end of the book. Like I suppose everyone who reads a certain kind of book, I wondered how autobiographical it is. The book is about a young single mother on benefits living on the Isle of Skye off the north coast of Scotland, who is trying to refind herself while coming slowly to accept her inclinations towards being attracted by the same sex. Orla B is also a single mother who lives on the Isle of Skye with similar inclinations; the publishing concern that she runs with her partner is called councilhouse publishing. As I said before, I was quite happy that the story took a little while to get where it was going as I was enjoying reading it so much, so my one semi-criticism isn’t really much of one at all.
The book won Orla the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award 2014, and it’s easy to see why. Orla is working on a new book, which I look hugely forward to. Please do read The January Flower, Orla B is one of those as-yet little-known writers who are hugely deserving of our attention, and as I said, the book is an utter pleasure.
Review by Noel Maurice, author of The Berlin Diaries, out in december 2014.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.