Friday 12 April 2019
Review by Louise Brown of "Between the Lines" by Matthew Bright and Christopher Black
Between The Lines is an unusual and charming love story between a lonely Victorian gentleman and a sad young girl living two centuries later. Dashby is uninterested in the female suitors in his life, while Beth has become jaded by the modern world of dating and casual relationships. She types a bleak text after soulless sex with her ex, although she doesn’t intend to send it, and when she wakes the next day she discovers it has been sent to an unknown recipient. It then mysteriously arrives in the form of a letter to Dashby. He replies to her by letter and she receives it as an email. The ensuing texts, emails and letters become a sort of time travel with both characters traversing the ages and communicating with the other.
The stories intertwine cleverly, and they start to sit side by side on the same page as each narrator tells their story in step with the other. In the 21st century Beth has some terrible sex, and in Dashby’s tale he is being pursued by a keen female admirer who, after he spills hot tea on himself, then insists on trying to dry the stain by rubbing him with a cloth.
The authors repeat this mirroring technique in each story until they merge and coalesce into one whole. This method of story-telling makes you think about how the real stuff of human existence, matters of the heart that is, never change over the centuries, and speak to the human condition of wanting to find a soul-mate and someone to love. I became immediately invested in both characters and was willing them to overcome the boundaries of time so that each character could have their fairy-tale ending. The writing is beautiful and the form skilful and innovative, and I recommend this original and inventive publication to any reader.
About the reviewer
Louise Brown is studying for her MA at the University of Leicester. She started writing in the summer of 2018, believing that it is never too late to start something new, and will have her poem 'The Deep Blue' published in Acumen in May 2019. She is writing poetry, short stories and is also working on the first draft of her novel. She lives on a farm in Rutland, and is kept busy working as an employment solicitor, while also writing, reading and looking after her three children.