Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Edge of Arcadia

Arcadian scene by Ken Reah 1991
inspired by 'Landscape with a Man washing his Feet at a Fountain' by Nicolas Poussin
Edge of Arcadia is Ken Reah's first novel. I haven't looked at fiction for many years, my reading material having been biographical or biological. We have been staying with Danuta and Ken during our Yorkshire tour of family and friends. I picked up this recently published novel from the well stocked bookshelves that line the walls of every room. The cover drew my attention immediately as it features a painting which is a favourite of regular visitors to the house.

 I was hooked after the first paragraph, and knew I had to continue after the first chapter. During the next few days I devoured it at every opportunity. Like many first novels, EoA draws upon the author's life experience, and for a man in his eighties that is considerable. Like Ken, the main character, Aidan, is an artist and educator, though unlike the author, his academic career is limited to one discipline. There are interesting side stories which I recognised from characters that Ken has spoken of over the decades that he has been our brother-in-law.

 This is a beautifully crafted story which will delight anyone who has an interest in romantic novels, the challenges that life offers, art, academic life, Northumberland and good writing. I had a dictionary by my side which was occasionally referred to and my vocabulary has been enriched by several interesting words.

 Sue was amazed that I read EoA avidly as fiction has been off my radar for so long and she couldn't remember the last time I read in bed! Ken's launch into the written word deserves success. It is rare to discover a new author who has such a gift with words.

Edge of Arcadia is published by Fantastic Books Publishing:

postscript: during his career Ken Reah has been on the academic staff of a college  in the field of art and a university in the field of linguistics. His pottery is exhibited in the Bowes Museum and his oil paintings enrich art collections. We have examples of several of his styles on our walls, including some 'parkscapes' which feature in EoA.
parkscape by Ken Reah 1991
In recent years Ken has concentrated on outside sculptures, some of which move with the wind.
sculpture by Ken Reah 2010

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