All is Song

Samantha Harvey

All is Song

It is late summer in London. Leonard Deppling returns to the capital from Scotland, where he has spent the past year nursing his dying father. Missing from the funeral was his younger brother William, who lives in the north of the city with his wife and two young sons. Leonard is alone, and rootless - separated from his partner, and on an extended sabbatical from work. He moves in with William, hoping to renew their friendship, and to unite their now diminished family. 3.6 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
All is Song

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 288
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-0224096331
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

It is late summer in London. Leonard Deppling returns to the capital from Scotland, where he has spent the past year nursing his dying father. Missing from the funeral was his younger brother William, who lives in the north of the city with his wife and two young sons. Leonard is alone, and rootless - separated from his partner, and on an extended sabbatical from work. He moves in with William, hoping to renew their friendship, and to unite their now diminished family.

Read The Omnivore's roundup for THE WILDERNESS.

Reviews

The Guardian

Carol Birch

This is a novel of ideas that also creates believable characters and explores complex relationships. Harvey's prose is graceful and unhurried, full of sharp observation and moments of subtly understated pathos. It's good to read the work of a writer who refuses to compromise or fit neatly into any given category, one brave enough to tackle such uncommercial subjects as myth, religion and the nature and value of contemplation.

06/01/2012

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The Literary Review

Anna Aslanyan

The beauty of the intense plot lies in its economy. The novel is so finely tuned, it is hard to find any passage where she is not fully in control. No matter how dramatic the events she describes, they never drown the ideas being discussed. What a difference there is between this sparse, well-measured prose and those ubiquitous novels suffering from adjectivitis. If ‘the only art is to omit’, leaving just the necessary details to frame the main message, then Harvey is a true master.

01/02/2012

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The Evening Standard

Rosamund Unwin

She looks at the role of philosophy in ordinary life. If that sounds tedious, it isn't: All is Song is as much about family relationships as it is a novel of ideas ... All is Song also serves as an introduction to philosophy - especially ethics and philosophy of religion - although I suspect some readers will tire of the brothers' lengthy debates. "We all suffer at times from the tiny mind," declares William during one such mental tussle. On the strength of All is Song, I would say Harvey may be an exception.

12/01/2011

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The Independent

Freya McClelland

Harvey's dense, unhurried prose is rich in characterisation and intellectual reasoning. The plot picks up pace when one of William's followers burns down a public library, citing William as his motivation. In an echo of Socrates's trial, William's commitment to his paradoxical ideology is played out publicly, shadowed with potential devastation for the whole family. This beautifully written composition does that rare thing, of provoking free thought while scrutinising the far-reaching repercussions of such a rebellious activity.

13/01/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Catherine Taylor

It is Harvey’s concentration on the intensity of the sibling relationship that is the heart of this self-denying yet resonant work.

11/01/2011

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Times Literary Supplement

Alex Beam

… a novel of extraordinary, almost perverse ambition … all a reader might want amid all these well-considered words is for something to happen. But the novel's strengths lie elsewhere, in its dramatization not of actions but ideas, and in its strong characterization.

09/03/2012

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The Observer

Natasha Tripney

... evocative and frequently luminous but frustratingly impressionistic in places. She takes a long while to shape and shade the two brothers, and too much space is taken up with the batting back and forth of philosophical opinions. Yet while this book doesn't reach the heights of its predecessor, there's still something compelling in the way Harvey resists the easy and the obvious.

08/01/2012

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The Times

Kate Saunders

A fine study of the nature and strength of family ties and the morality, or otherwise, of conforming where it matters.

07/01/2012

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The Sunday Times

Lucy Atkins

She thinks deeply, and writes beautifully about these thoughts. This is what propelled The Wilderness, her 2009 debut, to its Betty Trask prize and its place on the Orange prize shortlist. All Is Song will no doubt attract similar literary praise. And yet I berated myself constantly as I ploughed through this book. If I had more time, more energy, a more philosophical bent, then maybe I, too, would appreciate Harvey's genius.

01/01/2012

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