My Dearest Jonah
My Dearest Jonah is the second novel from young Geordie author Matthew Crow. I bought this novel because of its endorsement from Jonathan Trigell on the cover, an author whose work I've come to admire over the last six months.
My Dearest Jonah is the story of penpals Verity and Jonah who were introduced via a scheme. At the beginning of the novel Verity is in trouble and the bulk of her letters recount for Jonah how she ended up in her current position. Jonah's letters are present tense illustrating his attempts at a new life in a small town, trying to leave the unpleasantness of his past behind him.
The strength of My Dearest Jonah is the richness and quality of the prose, it is very clear that Crow is gifted with words and has a better way with them than some far more experienced and prolific writers out there.
But bizarrely his writing credentials are what causes the novels greatest flaw: the voice of his characters. Verity is a waitress and stripper without much of an education, who has taken to writing to ex convict Jonah who, imprisoned at a young age doesn't have much of an education either. Yet, in Verity's letters she comes out with such things as :
"The ancients said love was a completely mystical force, completely separate from matters as lowly as those of the flesh. Perhaps that's us Jonah. We transcend the carnal."
"unperturbed by the triptych of languages"
Her letters simply are not believable as the letters of an uneducated small town stripper. The same goes for Jonah's. Though Crow's own authorial voice is a very erudite one, it is not realistic as the voice of his characters. Additionally, the letters from each character are far too similar in style, vocabulary and ultimately verbosity to be believable as two separate voices. Surely each character should have had a separate style of writing, as people do in real life?
As a reader, though the story was interesting, I had trouble forming an attachment to either character or initially getting "my teeth stuck in" to the book. Also, there is quite a glaring typo on the second to last page. Tut, tut, proofreader.
Despite this, Matthew Crow definitely shows talent and promise and his future looks bright and is worth keeping an eye on. 7/10