Parents will often tell you that you will never understand love for a child until you have one; I always used to find this patronising or dismissive, but I have finally realised how right they are.
Here, in Enon, Harding follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with a shattering personal tragedy. Grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Tinkers), Charlie inhabits the same dynamic landscape of New England, its seasons mirroring his turbulent emotional odyssey. Along the way, Charlie’s encounters are brought to life by his wit, his insights into history, and his yearning to understand the big questions
Enon follows a year in Charlie Crosby’s life following the death of his thirteen year old daughter Kate, tragically killed in a car crash. Kate is Charlie’s world, the glue that held he and his wife together – the glue that held Charlie and the world together. As Charlie descends into a deep depression he takes the reader on a tour of his life and the history of his home, it is both devastating and interesting, quirky and damaged.
Charlie is broken, lost without his daughter. I spent the majority of the novel really wishing he would pull himself together and grieve with his wife. Reading Enon I felt perpetually suspended, waiting for the rope to snap – for Charlie to escape limbo and finally breakdown. As Charlie slips further and further from reality you feel a sense of despair, as even if you could reach into the book and talk to him your words would mean nothing – he transforms from a person of substance to an emaciated soul.
In addition to Charlie’s internal distortion you get a history of Enon; Kate died in a small town so everything reminds him of her, the history, the people and his own past. In that way Kate then becomes part of Enon legend, part of a timeless mash of events haunting the aging town. This is where I found the most beauty in the novel, in Kate’s absorption into the History of the town, in that respect she will never die.
Enon by Paul Harding is published by Random House and available on the 10th of September 2013; this copy was kindly given to me to read by the publishers via Netgalley, thank you!