Landfall

Landfall
Helen Gordon
Reviewed by Sarah Thickett
Penguin
Thu, 06/10/2011
978-1905490820
£12.99

Alice Robinson is a 34-year-old art critic for Meta magazine living with her flat-mate Isabel in a bohemian unit in East London. However, after a disastrous live radio appearance and a few catastrophic romantic entanglements, Alice accepts her parents’ offer to housesit the family home in the suburbs in a bid to get away from her erratic city lifestyle. This is where she is forced to confront head on her sister’s disappearance when they were both teenagers and meets Emily, her American, image-obsessed teenage cousin….

This is Helen Gordon’s first novel and it marks an incredibly impressive debut. Landfall is a very funny, intelligent and philosophical book that it is hard to do justice to in a brief review. Suffice to say, Gordon captures beautifully both the world of East London hipsters and middle class life in the suburbs. And all of this is neatly woven together by quotations from The Handbook for Girl Guides that prefix each part of the book.

Landfall is remarkably confident for a first novel; it tackles head on the issues surrounding child disappearance, suburban ennui and, ultimately, the meaning of life itself. Its philosophically dexterous approach to all of these thorny topics is highly admirable and Gordon should be applauded for her willingness to leave a lot of the big questions unanswered. What we are left with is a funny, fluently written, thought-provoking novel whose well-drawn characters linger with us. Let’s hope this is only the first of many for Helen Gordon.
 

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