The Gospel According to Cane by Courttia Newland (Telegram)
Is he really her son? Beverley is sure of it, knows it even before
he comes knocking and saying who he is - though when she first notices
him, not only does the thought not occur to her, she is afraid of him. Others, including her family, are dubious or sure he can't be. The novel is a study in ambiguity, an ambiguity brought into stark relief by a shocking conclusion. The book takes the form of Beverley's journal, written to 'make sense of the pain', and the events and memories are strikingly interspersed with text-book definitions of physical pain. There's an energy to the prose, though at times I found the language, in particular the dialogue, coy, and consequently Beverley's psychology and emotions as a mother faced with her regained but stranger son seemed incompletely realised. But there is no doubt that the novel keeps you guessing, gripped to know the outcome, and it's a striking exploration of the ambiguities of loss and love and of the ancestral legacies of betrayal, schism and belonging: the gospel according to cane.