Originally published: 14 November 2019
Author: Claire North
Published by: Orbit
Length: 420 pages
The Pursuit of William Abbey is metaphysical drama with elements of mystery and thriller.
The novel begins in 1917, during the first world war, with a nurse in a makeshift hospital close to a battlefield. When a mysterious new doctor arrives, she strikes up a conversation with him and with the thunder of gunfire nearby, he tells the her his story.
His name is William Abbey. He has been cursed by the mother of a boy he saw lynched in Africa and now the ghost of the boy follows him no matter how far he travels around the world to get away from it. Each time it gets near to him, Abbey finds that he can see the truth of men’s hearts, but the closer he gets, the more unable he is to stop himself speaking those truths aloud, spouting them like a madman. To make matters worse, if the ghost gets within touching distance of him, someone Abbey loves dies.
As Abbey travels the world and becomes involved in a spy network and meets others who are cursed, the breadth of the author Claire North’s research shines, never feeling forced or unnecessary, instead building an extraordinary level of sense of place and time as the decades pass. Also, as Abbey is a self-confessed coward, rather than becoming a thriller novel, it remains fully grounded in the real world as an affecting, thought-provoking exploration of the nature of truth. Abbey soon learns that everybody lies to some degree and that the ability to see through those truths is both a blessing and a curse.
An extraordinary novel which crosses the line from genre fiction to literary fiction.
My husband who is a huge Claire North fan has declared this her best novel yet!
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the blog tour and to Orbit for sending me a copy! Be sure to checkout the other stops below:
About the author:
Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin.
Catherine’s first novel, Mirror Dreams, was completed when she was 14 years old. The book was published in 2002 and garnered comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. She went on to publish a further seven young adult novels under her own name, earning her extensive critical acclaim and two Carnegie nominations for her novels Timekeepers and The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle.
While studying International History at the London School of Economics, she wrote an urban fantasy series for adults, writing as Kate Griffin. On graduating LSE she went to the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts to study Technical Theatre and Stage Management. Throughout her training she continued to write, and while working as a lighting technician at the Royal National Theatre wrote her first Claire North novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which became a word-of-mouth bestseller and was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. The follow-up Touch was described by the Independent as ‘little short of a masterpiece’, and her next novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope won the 2017 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Her recent novel The End of the Day was shortlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and her latest book, 84K has been shortlisted for the Brave New Words and Philip K. Dick Awards.
Catherine currently works as a live music lighting designer, teaches women’s self-defense, and is a fan of big cities, long walks, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.Catherine currently works as a live music lighting designer, teaches women’s self-defense, and is a fan of big cities, long walks, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.