Mike Gayle concentrates on relationships and their difficulties.
Meeting new people.
Falling in love.
Trying to maintain love.
Falling out of love.
Love of girl or boyfriend.
Love of husband or wife.
Love of children.
Love of family.
And the heartbreak when that love ends or is not reciprocated.
He manages to capture and communicate the familiar, things with which I strongly identify.
Sleepless nights when the mundane and insignificant becomes exaggerated in importance:
In the dark everything seems so much worse than it really is; even the smallest thing seems like a mountain you’ve got to climb. I tried telling myself that I was just tired, blowing things out of all proportion, and that everything would seem better in the morning, but what use is that when the morning’s so far away?
In the middle of the night, waiting for daylight feels like forever, a forever where you’re stuck going over every bad thought in your head with a fine-tooth comb.
Or those times of self-doubt, feeling that your intentions may be misunderstood, and that no matter what you say, or how you say it, it will be misinterpreted and received in the wrong way.
I reread the message twice. It looks okay to me but I think about sending it to Jodi to check it over for me, just to be on the safe side. In the end I tell myself not to be so silly, read it through one last time just to make sure it makes sense, and then press send.
For a minute I feel good.
Then for another I’m sick with nerves.
Then for another after that, I’m convinced I’ve said the wrong thing.
Perhaps its this familiarity in Gayle’s stories that gives me a feeling of authenticity through which I can believe in the characters and their experiences.
There are some complex and difficult relationships in Half a World Away. Noah Martineau’s marriage is breaking apart. He is reunited with Kerry, a sister he didn’t know he had. And he’s forced to face the forgotten past he’d tried to avoid.
Despite feeling a little exasperated by the apparent unreasonableness of one character, I had to recognise such characteristics ARE displayed by real people in real life, and conflict isn’t always rational: ultimately that’s something the particular character comes to recognise for themself.
I’ve been a Mike Gayle fan for a couple of decades (and maybe more).
I can always rely on him for an entertaining, moving, page-turning reading experience; often with at least a hint of humour.
There’s an intentional simplicity to Gayle’s writing. He writes with clarity, not obscuring the story and his characters with complex language to show off authorial cleverness.
While I can enjoy poetic wordsmith authors who can demonstrate a clever evocative turn of phrase, if their kind of books were all that were available, I think my love of reading would eventually fade.
Mike Gayle is an author I confidently turn to when I need to rekindle that love.
Author photo from: https://www.hachette.com.au/mike-gayle/
For more see his website: mikegayle.co.uk