The Back of the Book:
All the archives in the world weren’t enough when he didn’t know who, or what, he should be looking for and where he should be looking.
David Carter cannot help but wish for more: that his wife Eleanor would still be the ambitious and sparkling Scottish girl he once found so irresistible; that his job as a museum curator could live up to the promise it once held; that his daughter’s arrival could have brought her parents closer.
But a few careless words spoken by his mother’s friend Julia have left David restless with the nowledge that his whole life has been constructed around a lie. Struggling to make sense of his past through his archive of photos, letters and artifacts, David is driven forward, across wartime London and post-war Coventry, Aberdeen and rural Ireland, in a search for meaning and truth. But the story always comes back to him and to Eleanor, to their quiet attempts to hold togther something they began before they could even understand what it was.
So Many Ways to Begin is a story about the possibilities of love, of beginning, at any time. Jon McGregor’s lyrical, intimate novel explores what happens when our lives fail to take the turns we expect, and the ways we learn to let go of the people we might have been.
NotJustLaura’s Review: Having read If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, I was expecting another fast, easy read during which the pages would almost seem to turn themselves. In fact, this is a very different book. It is slower and takes place over a lifetime.
David Carter is a curator in a museum and, while the narrative is third-person, this is very much his book. Each chapter centres around one item – a photograph, a birth certificate, a ration-book – and the reader is invited to learn the story behind it. Gradually, Mr McGregor pieces together these snapshots of David’s life and, I have to say, he is quite masterful at weaving them into his book.
The writing is intense ad detailed. I could see the snow falling or the sun shining and Mr McGregor appears to play with the way ur memories deceive us – did she smile or frown as she read the letter, heard his voice or left the house.
If I gave stars, this book would get ten. As I don’t, I shall simply recommend that you read it.