Book review: Lamb, Bonnie Nadzam

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“Dave Lamb is a self-obsessed 54 year old man who’s business partner has told him to take some time off work to cool an affair he has had with a subordinate.  He is upset and disoriented, being unable to return to Cathy, his wife, but remembering his comfortable life with her with nostalgic longing.”

Published by Hutchinson, 1 November 2012

RRP £12.99


Reviewer: Diana, Watford

The main theme of this book – the abduction and abuse of a child – is dark and disturbing.  However, it’s extremely well written and contains beautiful descriptive passages; it maintains an ambiguity and tension right up to the last page. Is the man grooming the child in a predatory way, or is he really trying to open her eyes to the world and the possibilities in life?  If you are not put off by the subject matter and would enjoy an exploration of the psychology of a disturbed, manipulative adult, this unusual tale shows great insight, raises difficult issues, and leaves some unanswered questions.

Reviewer: Keri, Wigan

Following the death of his father and the breakdown of his marriage, fifty something David Lamb is approached  by “a freckled, inappropriately dressed 11-year-old girl named Tommie”.  She walks up to him and says, “I’m supposed to ask you for a cigarette.”

In a bid to escape the drudgeries of their lives, Tommie agrees to hit the road with Lamb and accompany the older man to his cabin in the Rocky Mountains.  And so author Bonnie Nadzam steers the reader on a journey ranging from pity to repulsion.

An edgy, modern tale with parallels drawn from Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Lamb essentially explores the boundaries of friendship and the appropriateness of this unlikely coupling.

A dark and slightly disturbing affair, my emotions as the reader veered from sympathising with these troubled souls, to at times, feeling extremely uncomfortable.  I felt challenged to read but enjoyed questioning the characters motives and the wider concept of ‘right from wrong’.  At times an intense and controversial read, I continued to doubt Lamb’s true intentions and was kept guessing up until the conclusion of the novel.

Thought provoking, however expect to feel conflicting emotions as the reader!

Reviewer: Andrea, Croxley Green, Hertfordshire

Tommie, girl, aged 11, almost 12, David, or Gary Lamb, as he is called mainly, is a sad tale (in my opinion) about a man, aged 54, who is asked for a cigarette, in the street, by Tommie, as a dare, by her friends. He then, convinces her to get into a car, for a life-changing journey, for a limited time.

Yes, it won an award, (2011 Flaherty Dunman First Novel Prize for Lamb), but as a mother, I found it hard to follow, due to character and name changes.  David changes his name to Gary when he meets Tommie. Long, lingering descriptions about scenery and then next, Gary is saying how he and Tommie love each other.

At times it is difficult to keep reading.  I enjoyed reading when Gary/David is more of an Uncle than someone who feels like they are abducting a child. I would love to read Ms Nadzams follow up, or next novel, to see if she has “easier” tales to tell. The book isn’t split up into chapters which also made it hard to follow. I was hoping for a bit of happiness in this story, but all I wanted to do was to hug Tommie and to tell David/Gary, to go home. Too much description for the wrong reasons. Too much build up, which ultimately left me wondering what happened to some characters, “Linnie and Cathy” and quite frankly, not caring, except about Tommie.

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