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Posted: March 11, 2017

Blue Monday a seamless collaboration

Book Review

By Derryll White

French, Nicci (2011). Blue Monday.

Nicci French is a pseudonym for the husband and wife team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. They have been writing for quite a while, both individually and as collaborators. ‘Blue Monday’ is their first published novel featuring Frieda Klein, a London psychotherapist.

The characters are built with care, slowly and with a lot of detail. There are surprises, such as Josef who falls through the ceiling and becomes a friend of Frieda’s. Frieda risks love, and loses, and by the act makes herself more real.

There is a lot of interesting psychology laid out in ‘Blue Monday.” Being the father of identical twins myself, some of it comes close to home. I particularly like Frieda’s approach – a psychotherapist is there to help, not to pass judgement.

Nicci Gerrard and Sean French have created a very strong and memorable character in Frieda Klein. She mixes action with powerful cerebral contemplation, combines anger with love, and finds an exciting path both through the wilderness of urban London and the chaos of Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson’s world. The writing is seamless and does not read at all like a collaboration. I look forward to reading more of Nicci French’s work with Frieda Klein.

****

Excerpts from the novel:

LONDON WINTER – Not tonight. Not today. Not now with a new week just about to wake itself up reluctantly and blearily get going. A week that would have to face up to November, to darkness and rain, with only more darkness and more rain to come. It was a time when you ought to sleep and wake again in March or April or May. Sleep.

LONDON – How could a river be forgotten about? When she walked this way, Frieda always stopped by a grating where you could still hear the river flowing deep below, like an echo of something. And when you had left that behind, you could still walk between the banks rising on either side. Even the occasional street name hinted at the wharves where barges had been unloaded and before that the rises, the grass slopes where people sat and just watched the crystal water flow down into the Thames. That was London. Things built on things built on things, each in its turn forgotten about, but each somehow leaving a trace, if only a rush of water heard through a grating.

FRIEDA – She never opened her mail in the middle of the day. Sometimes she forgot about it for a week or more until people rang to complain. Nor did she check her answering machine messages. In fact, it had only been in the last year that she had finally bought an answering machine, and she steadfastly refused to have a mobile, to the incredulity of all those around her, who didn’t believe that people could actually function without one. But Frieda wanted to be able to escape from incessant communications and demands. She didn’t want to be at anyone’s beck and call and she liked cutting herself off from the urgent inanities of the world. When she was on her own she liked to be truly alone. Out of contact and adrift.

PSYCHOTHERAPIST – “You wouldn’t believe where I’ve gone. You wouldn’t believe the shit that flows through the human brain, and I’ve walked through it up to my neck. Men have told me things about children, and women have told me things about their fathers and their uncles, and I don’t know why they didn’t just go out of the room and blow their fucking brains out, and I thought if I went on the journey with them, if I showed them that they weren’t alone, that someone could share it, then maybe they could come back and make something of their lives.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.


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