Today it’s my turn to take part in the BlogTour Material Remains by Richard Bray. It’s an emotionally explosive tale, but written in a subtle way. Not at all what I expected.
About the Author
Richard W. H. Bray is a writer and winemaker. His first book, Salt and Old Vines, won Best French Wine Book at the 2015 Gourmand Awards. He lives in London.
Follow @RWHBray @unbounders on Twitter, Visit rwhbray.net
About the book
On a hungover Friday morning, archaeology student Mike McEwan’s life of tea, pints, late mornings and the occasional essay comes to an abrupt halt. Consumed with guilt, grief and confusion Mike haunts the ruins of St Andrews, rebuilding them in his mind and obsessing about the loss of someone he barely knew, unsure of his place in her life, or her death.
The discovery of an ancient plague burial site drags Mike back into contact with those around him. But life has changed, both for himself and others, and the burial ground holds more than the bones of those long dead. As university life continues around him Mike peels back the layers of earth and its dark history, trying desperately to connect the victims of the past to the tumult of his present.
At the centre of this story is how Mike deals with an unexpected traumatic event in his life. It has repercussions for his relationships, his academic career, his psychological well-being and completely changes his outlook on life.
Imagine making a romantic connection with someone, a special moment that could potentially be something more important going forward. Then that person is abruptly ripped from your life. With no explanation, no reason and just empty unknown space instead.
For Mike the event is the catalyst for an internal and external avalanche. He questions and doubts everything in his life and about himself. He is consumed with grief for the stranger he only knew for such a short time and ridden by the guilt, and feeling, that he might have missed some kind of signal or sign.
He has to deal with the suspicion and recriminations of those who find it hard to deal with the loss of a young person with a long life ahead of them, and such promising prospects. It’s easier to blame the living breathing person in front of them when it is impossible to ask the dead for explanations.
In the midst of this chaos Mike finds his true calling. Whilst working through this complicated time with denial, avoidance and plenty of alcohol, he finds something he is truly intrigued by. It’s probably not a coincidence that he is pulled in by the uncovering the mysteries of the long dead and answering the questions surrounding their deaths.
I think it’s important to read what is written between the lines in this story. It is very much a searching of soul, a battle of inner conflicts and ultimately it’s a story about a young man finding a way forward after experiencing a traumatic event.
It’s an emotionally explosive tale, but written in a subtle way. The complicated lives of the young characters and their drama seems to take precedence, as the more poignant emotional aspect takes place in the background, almost like an afterthought. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
Buy Material Remains at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Unbound; pub date 7 Feb. 2019