Cover Image: Victoria Park

Victoria Park

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Member Reviews

Reeves has written twelve interlinked short stories about the residents of Victoria Park in East London. 
The stories start and finish with Mona and Wolfe, an older Jewish couple, and cover tales such as Bettie and Mia’s quest for a baby and how Daniel protects the reputation of his elderly neighbour Monty and how he died.
Reeves is an assured writer and I liked the way the characters’ lives intermingle: we learn whether or not Bettie and Mia are having a baby through Bettie’s yoga teacher.
I’m not a huge fan of short stories but these are well-written, compelling and easy to read. We learn so much about the residents of Victoria park in relatively few words.
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Thanks for the copy via Netgalley. 

I was really excited to read this, with the relationship between Wolfie and his wife sounding intriguing and was looking forward to see how that would be sensitively covered. Instead it was smaller part of the story, as you hear from other residents that have a connection to the local area. Although it was a great mix of characters, I found myself to read quickly and get through chapters to understand their connection. 

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Just like we all feel the months in real life go by far too fast, so do the months in this book. I wasn’t expecting to be as absorbed by this book as I was, due to each chapter being from a different perspective. However, Gemma manages to weave all their stories together, giving you just enough that you want more. All their stories are connected in some way, and I did enjoy how from a simple sentence, a person’s story can be summarised by someone else. 

I would definitely recommend reading this book. It’s such an easy read and leaves you wanting more from each chapter. Each sentence is perfectly crafted, and I very much enjoyed Gemma’s writing style.
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This reminded me of Nick Hornby’s writing, which I love, and from the outset, I was drawn into the lives and loves of those living in Victoria Park. The story is bookended with the lives of Mona and Wolfie, married 65 years, and their neighbours and friends who live close by. Twelve residents share their stories; some overlap unexpectedly, others barge into their friends’ lives over the course of a year. By the end of the book, some characters’ lives are changed irrevocably. The writing is clear, but with feeling, and there may have been a tear shed while reading some of the tales. It runs the gamut of emotion and I was surprised at how quickly I finished it. A really open and honest account, thoroughly enjoyable.
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A beautifully written novel which perfectly captures the spirit of the place it describes and has some sentences so gorgeous they made me want to cry. Unfortunately, it struggles under the weight of too many characters. We first meet Wolfie and Mona, an elderly Jewish couple; Luca, their employee in the deli; and Mia and Bettie, two lesbians struggling to conceive a child. For me, this would be enough, but the linked chapters from different perspectives go on until we are hearing from Bettie’s yoga teacher and Luca’s son’s girlfriend’s mother’s employer, a former ballet teacher and general racist who doesn’t add much apart from some finely turned sentences and a reminder that M&S used to be quite good. The author doesn’t quite resolve the argument that she flirts with throughout the book, which seems – though I may have got it wrong – to be whether Wolfie and Mona’s restrained, rationed, emotionally resonant East End was better than today’s chaos of acid-throwing, IVF and Deliveroo, or whether such a time of suffering and loss with the Blitz and Kindertransport should never be revisited if we can help it. There is no easy answer to that question, and this author has something to say, but like her cautious characters, it feels like she’s shying away from saying it. Still, this is a gentle read with some compelling characters that I won't hesitate to recommend.
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