Book Review: The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

Book Review: The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

reviewed by Chris Richards.

Whether you believe in fairies or not this book needs to be on your summer wish list. Set in and around Southampton and more particularly by the Hamble River, we the locals are sure to recognise much of the scenery in the story. Izzie and Robin meet back in the mid-eighties and fall in love, then tragedy strikes and neither have lived the life they wished for while holding hands around the Faerie Tree.

After 20 years a chance meeting in Winchester brings them back together but the years have not always been kind and to make it worse their memories don’t tally up. The mystery is eventually fathomed out by physical evidence, and advantageous friendships but knowing who is right only makes the lovers’ ending more uncertain. The complex emotional pathologies of Robin and Izzie keep the reader guessing until the final reveal. The short chapters and changing perspective make this book utterly captivating and difficult to put down. I’d recommend this book for pool-side escapism and prolonged indulgent me time.

The character’s flaws and mistakes make them endearing and relatable. Izzie’s inner doubts about her maternal instincts and skills with regards to her 16-year-old daughter resonate with every parent at some point.  Every human connection feels fully formed and part of a wider world. Robin and Izzie’s relationship is a serial of chance events and coincidences which feel organically like providence. Jane Cable’s deft handling of the narrative is beautiful and intricate. The genius is the author’s invisibility.

The book is filled with opportunities characters both exploited to the full and missed, prejudices held and experienced, and grief in many forms but reading it is not a negative experience or melancholia. The impressions left behind are of hope, love, and the sense that lives are being lived.

Published by Troubador and available now from good bookshops including Southampton’s radical independent bookshop October Books