Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?
Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press furore quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is also isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world…
Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives… in an instant.
The scope of A Song Of Isolation was wide ranging from Amelie Hart, film star, Dave, ordinary bloke, to Damaris, a young girl living her everyday life. Malone took these three individuals and threw them into a whirling melting pot that made for intense and thrilling reading.
From the start Amelie and Dave’s relationship appeared on the brink but Malone put that on the backburner as Dave found himself in prison accused of child sex abuse. Amelie and Dave’s parents threw all their efforts into proving his innocence but Malone didn’t give us that happy outcome, instead he plunged us into maelstrom of lies and deceit. For Amelie, it was the trauma of a past event, whose memory pushed into the present as Malone sent her to France, to flee the media onslaught, and the disappearance of her money. A pervading sense of being watched meant she was never far away from what she wanted to leave behind. The trust of friends and those with whom she worked came into question and it allowed Malone to highlight the fickleness of the showbiz world, the media’s need to infiltrate every aspect of a persons personal life no matter the hurt it caused nor the inflated nature of the material published in print and on social media.
For Dave the harsh world of life behind bars was stark and brilliantly portrayed, the ever present need to act in a certain way, to toe the line, to be wary of those around him, filled you with unease, that something could happen at any time. What I admired most was Malone’s ability to convey Dave’s resigned sense of hopelessness, of trial by media as well as the courts, guilt assumed before he even stepped into a court room.
Then we had Damaris, the young girl at the centre of the storm, innocent, confused, never allowed to fully relate her story. Malone treated her story with great sensitivity, compassion, never exaggerated, but maintained a balanced perspective. What he conveyed so brilliantly was her emotional trauma, her bewilderment and lack of understanding, her ability to suppress what happened to the back of her mind, until years later when the actions of her mum and Uncle began to unlock memories. When he did unlock them it was careful and slow, like cogs on a machine that needed oiling to run faster and the final realisation of what happened pushed her to take action.
The final pages were a whirlwind of emotion and truth, of recriminations and justice that left you quite breathless but also with a sense of satisfaction. Why I am not going to reveal as that is for potential readers to discover.
A Song Of Isolation was one those novels operated on a two tier system. Malone had that wonderful ability to tell a story, to keep the reader immersed, but also to examine what is currently so pervasive within society, the role of social media and the impact simple words can have on an individuals life. When you looked at Amelia you saw how once she relished her success, her time in the spotlight, but how far should the media go when that star wishes to retreat to the background to live a life out of the spotlight. Should we respect that or should she have accepted that she was public property, fair game for the media both online and in print? And what of Dave, subjected to a barrage of media attention, of perceived knowledge that effectively ruined his life?
We will all have our own opinions and I didn’t think Malone was preaching or telling us the answers, his role was to make us think, to question , but ultinately to entertain, which he did with aplomb.
Once again Malone has demonstrated what a fine and accomplished author he has become.
I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of A Song Of Isolation to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died and In the Absence of Miracles soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.