Coincidence can be said to be a rather convenient way to move a plot forward. Yet this book, which revolves around coincidences, works. And was quite a delight to read.
Thomas Post, who “seems to roll along, a curious, angular fellow, a lummox, tall, awkward, in an ill-fitting jacket and large round spectacles” is the “coincidence man”, or as the original UK title of the book goes, “the Coincidence Authority”. He is a lecturer in Applied Philosophy and has devoted his studies, his life really, to coincidences.
He meets Azalea Lewis, coincidentally (or not?) as they take a tumble down the escalator at a Tube station. She teaches at the same university, and has quite the story to tell. She has come to believe that she will die on June 21, Midsummer’s Day, following in the footsteps of several of her family members.
Post is captivated – by her coincidences and her looks – and is determined to investigate further.
“Azalea’s coincidences were off the scale,” he says quietly. “They could not be explained. Not by mathematics, at least. In fact…” he lifts his face and the sun catches his countenance with its glare, “…they might even be proof that our universe is not a place we thought it was.”
Ironmonger interweaves this with the background of Azalea’s life, from her bizarre abandonment at a fairground in Devon in 1982 at the age of three.
“Azalea was well nourished, suitably dressed and clearly well cared for; her hair had been combed and her fingernails trimmed. It all added to the general sense of mystery that clung to her apparent abandonment. Who would do this to a child like Azalea?”
The police do their duty: call in a child psychologist to talk to her, speech therapists to determine her accent, media reports and all that. But no one comes to claim her. She is assigned a foster family then eventually placed for adoption.
“So Azalea Ives became Azalea Folley, and the events of 21 June 1982, when a small girl was discovered to be lost at a traveling fair, were gradually forgotten.”
Then her residence in Uganda with her adopted parents, teachers at a mission school, also the haunting ground of the Lord’s Resistance Army which has a fondness for recruiting child soldiers.
It is quite an ambitious book but Ironmonger has created something quite readable and well constructed, right from its beginning at the Devon fair, urging the reader on to turn the pages to find out about the coincidental life of Azalea and the Coincidence Man Thomas Post.
I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours
Tuesday, February 18th: missris
Wednesday, February 19th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, February 20th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness
Monday, February 24th: A Musing Reviews
Tuesday, February 25th: Literary Lindsey
Wednesday, February 26th: Shall Write
Thursday, February 27th: The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, March 5th: Olduvai Reads
Thursday, March 6th: Love a First Book
Monday, March 10th: The Book Wheel
Tuesday, March 11th: Doing Dewey
Wednesday, March 12th: BoundbyWords
Thursday, March 13th: A Dream Within a Dream
Monday, March 17th: Anita Loves Books
Tuesday, March 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, March 19th: The Written Word
Thursday, March 20th: Priscilla and Her Books