Michael Logan's Reviews > The Coward's Tale: A Novel

The Coward's Tale by Vanessa Gebbie
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's review
Nov 28, 11

Read from November 07 to 25, 2011, read count: 1

Gebbie has long been an author with that elusive touch of bringing achingly human stories to life, and she carries on that tradition in this, her first novel.

It isn't a book to be read in one big gulp. Rather, with its focus on the stories of an array of characters affected by the Kindly Light pit disaster generations before, it can be taken in small chunks, with each mouthful to be savoured and reflected upon.

I don't want to give too much away, but suffice to say that what seems at first to be a collection of disparate stories linked by a common thread comes together beautifully at the end with the resolution of the tale of Ianto Jenkins, the beggar and coward of the title.

If you read and enjoyed Notwithstanding, this is perhaps in a similar vein, focusing as it does on the stories of a small village's residents. But while Notwithstanding is full of wit and whimsy, Gebbie's creation is deeper and more poignant, and will resonate far longer than de Bernieres still-beautiful book.

All-in-all, The Coward's Tale is the work of an author completely in control, and Gebbie - who has been a favorite of the literati for many years - deserves to take a step into wider acknowledgement for this deft work.

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