Searching for AmberSearching for Amber by David Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Searching for Amber by David Smith is a work of literary fiction. I have to declare an interest in that I read and reviewed this as a Goodreads Giveaway. I don’t enter these regularly, it is an occasional thing when I have little to do and as I was nursing a broken ankle I had time on my hands. I like to be adventurous with my reading and while most of the blurbs on Giveaways tell half the plot, this one drew my attention because it had only one sentence.
“Under the fluid metal of a steel-blue sky,
the body of a young woman strokes silently through the dawn waves… “
The book could have been about anything but it sounded intriguing enough to warrant filling in a few details and several days letter I received an email to say I had won, followed the same week by a copy of the paperback. I was in the mood for a spot of late night reading, my Kindle batteries had gone flat too, so I started on my prize – and prize it was!
To start things rolling, this book will not please those readers who want fast and furious action, it is thoughtful, has a long exposition and descriptive passages, many of which are exquisitely written. The first chapters are apparently exposition and are full of the minutiae a visual artist would capture. The use of the present tense puts us very much in “the Now” as well as in the mind of Jade. It is those early chapters that introduce the basic premise and main characters of the story.
I don’t want to write a review that either tells the story or deals in spoilers, but the novel deals with the intimate and largely unknown links between these characters. There is much of loss and tragedy in these pages, love, betrayal and suicide are also themes. The shift between time periods is emphasized by shifts in tense between past and present. The author is fond of the present tense and handles it well. I was impressed by the way he draws action out in an almost dreamlike state. I also like the use of poetry.
It was only when I reached the end that I realized the perfect symmetry of the plot and how well that sentence “Under the fluid metal of a steel-blue sky, the body of a young woman strokes silently through the dawn waves… “ becomes a sort of leitmotiv for the work. The sea moves almost like a character itself throughout the story.
Another theme that runs through the story nicely is the theme of searching for Amber. The cover has an amber blonde Jade in the foreground with two children beachcombing in the background. They are searching for amber, which features in an item of jewellery and also is the name of a very important character. I leave you to find the link! This is a book for readers who love thoughtful books that go that little more deeply into descriptions, motives and the interaction of character and landscape. I would recommend it to lovers of literary fiction and I am very grateful to have received a review copy of such a thoughtful work.

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