Peter Dorward - review (4 stars)

Nightingale (Two Ravens Press)

Peter Dorward

The 1980 terrorist bombing in Bologna that killed 85 people is the focal point of Peter Dorward’s debut novel from new Scottish publishing company Two Ravens. Idealistic, charming Don and his estranged daughter, ‘blue-stockinged virgin’ Rosie, are drawn away from Scotland, a thin, Presbyterian place where the light is cold, presided over by her decent, dull mother and his ex-wife, Julia. Bologna, with its heady smells, graffiti slogans and seething political convictions, where a virgin is ‘someone who will get fucked’, intoxicates them in turn.

Dorward’s plot requires that both of his protagonists are kept in the dark; the final reveal is tense and horrifying, but somewhat confusing as, like Don and Rosie, we never fully understand the shifting political manoeuvres that have led them to their fates. However, this is still an elegant, substantial novel, with brilliantly realised moments that linger like the bergamot oil Don’s lover Maria wears on her skin. (Kirstin Innes)


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