Book review | The Offing by Benjamin Myers
Author: Benjamin Myers
Genre: Literary fiction
No. of pages: 260
Published by: Bloomsbury Circus
Published on: 22nd August 2019
My rating: ★★★★☆
One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood's Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea.
Staying with Dulcie, Robert's life opens into one of rich food, sea-swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.
The Offing is one such book that will touch your heart. The magic of the book lies in its simplicity and honesty. As Myers describes Robert's little adventure in Northern Europe, you can't help but feel amazed. A young schoolboy Robert - tired of the shackles of school and his unavoidable future as a miner - leaves home for a few months to explore the countryside. I'd definitely love to be in his place. But Robert's exploration is not filled with comfort. His determination and his views on war and life is one filled with honesty.
When Robert unexpectedly meets Dulcie on his journey, Dulcie invites him for tea as if he is her long lost friend. This familiarity that Dulcie shows Robert is filled with warmth. Though Dulcie lives alone with her dog at a quiet hillside, Dulcie has a treasure trove of food, culinary skills and stories. As Robert forms a friendship with Dulcie - working odd jobs for her in return of good food, a place to sleep and whole loads of poetry books - Robert starts understanding Dulcie and her way of life a bit more clearly and in turn, his.
Living in Dulcie's house, Robert unearths an unpublished book of poetry dedicated to Dulcie. Robert is at once pulled into a vortex of words and poetry. I loved how the author showed Robert's slow and hesitating journey of falling in love with poetry and the written word. He starts finding and looking for poetry everywhere - the sea, in the waves, in the fishermen, in the beach-goers and mostly in the offing - the place where the sea and the sky meets.
Loved reading the book. And the book is like a picture book. The countryside and the cuisines by Dulcie has breathtaking imagery. Read this book to see what romance actually is. Because when Dulcie says...
'...Romance needn't mean love hearts and red roses, you know. Romance is feelings and romance is freedom. Romance is adventure and nature and wanderlust. It is the sound of the sea and the rain on your tarpaulin and a buzzard hovering across the meadows and waking in the morning to wonder what a day will bring and then going to find out. That is romance'
you'll feel the words tugging your heart strings.
The Offing by Benjamin Myers has offered the true beauty of life. How Myers portrays the true essence of life through poetry is splendid. I loved how the book has a melancholic undertone to it. The dialogues between Dulcie and Robert holds such good yet woeful vibes that you will want to reach out to these two characters. Myers words and his flow of writing can only be described as a soundless waterfall. It's like a cool breeze at the end of a hot summer day.
Loved the book and loved its intense essence.
Benjamin Myers was born in Durham in 1976. His novel The Gallows Pole received a Roger Deakin Award and won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Beastings won the Portico Prize for Literature and Pig Iron won the Gordon Burn Prize, while Richard was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. He has also published poetry, crime novels and short fiction, while his journalism has appeared in publications including, among others, the Guardian, New Statesman, Caught by the River and New Scientist. He lives in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.