Close Your Eyes by Ewan Morrison
After the birth of her daughter, Emma Phillips becomes obsessed with the death – or was it? – of her own mother in a road accident. The body was never found, and this haunts Emma. She’s also haunted by her unorthodox upbringing, for although she writes advertising copy now, she grew up, as ‘Rowan,’ on an anti-capitalist commune. So Emma runs away from her daughter and supposedly perfect husband, post-natal depression playing a part in this, to try and reconnect with her past.
This splits the book into two time streams, with Emma’s past counterpointing her present. The descriptions of growing up in the seventies on a commune that gradually moves towards becoming more of a cult are fantastic, and the contrast with the monetised communes of the present, team-building workshops and all, is very skilfully done. On a technical level, the book is just as skilful, with a large part told in the second person, which makes Emma’s stresses all the more urgent to the reader. The perspective shifts though, from ‘you’ to ‘I’ to and even to ‘we’, to deliberately unsettling effect, layering in song lyrics and repeated phrases to convey Emma’s mindset. A rivetingly, well-told tale. [Ryan Agee]