Skater's Waltz

Skater's Waltz

4.5 (2 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
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Product details

  • Paperback | 331 pages
  • 130 x 190mm
  • Random House Children's Publishers UK
  • Corgi Childrens
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0552990485
  • 9780552990486

Review Text

By the author of non-fiction works on the Beatles (Shout!) and the Rolling Stones (Symphony for the Devil, 1984), The Skater's Waltz is the first of Norman's fiction to appear in this country. A novel about early boyhood, it is elegantly written, exhaustively detailed, and, by the end, more than a bit tedious. Little Louis Belmayne finds himself living on the Isle of Wight in the late 1940s (he's eight or so), where his father, a dreaming but never-quite successful entrepreneur, operates a skating-rink-cum-amusement arcade at the end of the long entertainment pier that juts out into the sea. As the novel opens, schoolboy Louis has been abandoned for a time by his quarreling parents (his mother, once pretty, is brow-beaten and losing her looks); and his father's return one morning (he is an impatient, smoldering man, not wholly pleased by the often onerous burden of his son's existence) offers the occasion for a long look backward at the years that have led up to the parents' last and irreparable quarrel. From a sensitive boy's-eye-view, we get glimpses of the years (the "happy" years) of the parents' early marriage; then the more tentative and doubtful years on the Isle of Wight, the shabby pavilion where the skating rink is set up, Louis' school days, the cast of half-seedy characters who are employed by the money troubled father, and, at much length, memories of Louis' wonderful, warm grandmother, Nanny Belmayne, the boy's sole source of reliable, unqualified loving. En route, masterful touches of the poetic ("down to All Saints' Church, where the Solent reared like a wall from the bottom of West Street, and huge ocean liners hung by their hazy funnels in the sky") are too often small rewards for the frequently repetitive lengths required to reach them in a remarkably unselective, indefatigably memory-dense narrative. Confined to a wheelchair for two weeks because of a broken foot (and coddled and pampered excessively), the boy "remembered the epoch afterwards as one of neurotic luxury." In its unremitting and nostalgic detail, flirting constantly with the effete, the novel might be spoken of in these same terms. Rewards are here, though slight, and only for those with the patience and leisure to be tolerant. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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