Helen Smith's "Alison Wonderland" already has a strange life--what with her psychic postman--but when she becomes a private detective things get even more bizarre when she meets a man who loves a shig, "the fattest, woolliest animal on earth, the product of a union between a pig and a sheep". Being an investigator isn't all glamour and Alison often has to struggle to hold on to the difference between working in a boring job and being a detective working in a boring job. But at least it's not just the expected, run of the mill sleaze, double-crossing and corruption; there's also secret crayfish fishermen, lemon sweets and, of course, the shig. It's this mammoth animal that lies at the heart of Project Brown Dog--an investigation that Alison leads to uncover sinister animal eugenics being orchestrated in the name of commerce by a company in Weymouth.
This is the case that lends Alison Wonderland narrative drive, although Helen Smith's tentative, exploratory style sits uncomfortably within the adventure story set-up. Smith's strength comes to the fore when she's drifting, observing the incidentals of life; "the comforting smells like dog's paws when they wake up from a long sleep" and the rustling of voracious Japanese knotweed as it invades the pavements of Brixton. There's even an intricate Venn diagram sketched to ponder the sagging skin and drooping breasts on show at Tooting Bec Lido. It's this clean, seemingly effortless voice that gives Alison Wonderland an impressive edge and will make her second novel one worth watching out for. --Jane Honey
Présentation de l'éditeur
After her husband leaves her for another woman, twentysomething Londoner Alison Temple impulsively applies for a job at the very P.I. firm she hired to trap her philandering ex. She hopes it will be the change of scene she so desperately needs to move on with her shattered life. At the all-female Fitzgerald’s Bureau of Investigation, she spends her days tracking lost objects and her nights shadowing unfaithful husbands. But no matter what the case, none of her clients can compare to the fascinating characters in her personal life. There’s her boss, the estimable and tidy Mrs. Fitzgerald; Taron, Alison’s eccentric best friend, who claims her mother is a witch; Jeff, her love-struck, poetry-writing neighbor; and—last but not least—her psychic postman. Her relationships with them all become entangled when she joins Taron for a road trip to the seaside and stumbles into a misadventure of epic proportions! Clever, quirky, and infused with just a hint of magic, this humorous literary novel introduces a memorable heroine struggling with the everyday complexities of modern life.
A weird and wonderful first novel about love, work, superstition and adventure
Back Cover copy
Having given up a boring nine-to-five office job to become a private detective, Alison finds that most of her working life is spent spying on unfaithful husbands. In offices. From nine to five.
Until Project Brown Dog.
From somewhere on the coast of England, rumours arise of the sinister genetic crossbreeding of unsuspecting animal species. Alison is assigned to investigate the truth. With her friend Taron - a woman with a hundred-candle smile and a unique, if ambitious, mission to improve the world - she travels from London to Weymouth and back again, rocked by a shocking discovery.
Part adventure story, part dissertation on anything and everything from Japanese knotweed and psychic postmen to why women with great bodies wear the chunkiest bikinis, Alison Wonderland is a kaleidoscope of acute observations and comic virtuosity.
Helen Smith's first novel is remarkable in its originality. She can turn the familiar into a dazzling surprise and the absurd into the everyday - and make it all effortlessly entertaining.
'I loved it. She's a very funny writer indeed, in a pleasingly deadpan way, and her heroine's misadventures have the comicality, the freshness and the bizarre excitements of a TinTin story for grown-ups.' - Jeremy Lewis.
Biographie de l'auteur
Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright and the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. In addition to Alison Wonderland
, she is the author of Being Light, The Miracle Inspector
, and two children’s books. Her plays have been produced to critical acclaim in the United Kingdom. She has traveled all over the world, and currently lives in London.