Top positive review
Refracted visions within a world of snobbery and bullying
30 December 2017
Be sure to go outside and look into the distance as you read this absorbing book. Apparently what causes short-sightedness is that we don’t exercise both our long vision and our short vision each day. So take a walk in the middle of this book even though you will want to read it non-stop.
‘The Party’ is about refracted vision. The main character, Martin, is an outsider so he sees those around him with a critical and often caustic perception while desperately longing to feel comfortably included. His desperation crystalizes into an infatuation with an upper crust fellow called Ben. Martin frantically studies every aspect of how to make himself acceptable to Ben.
We also see through the eyes of Martin’s wife, Lucy. At first, seeing her through Ben’s eyes, we are inclined to be dismissive of her but as we get more of her point of view we form a different opinion.
Ben, Martin and Lucy move through a world riven by snobbery and bullying. Everyone is carefully balancing on hierarchical shelves and working out if they should try to leap to another and how. It all sounds so exhausting and so pointless and so lonely, so very, very lonely. No one is connecting on a real level.
This could be a novel where you feel like all the characters can go to hell in a handbasket for all you care but in fact, I found myself hypnotized by the clever way that Elizabeth Day gradually revealed the crucial events in the story first through one refraction of this lens and then through that.
The hatred for the upper classes is pathological, reminiscent of ‘The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne,’ by Andrew Nicoll, which was another book which also gives a dangerous permission to a violent expression of that hatred.
I don’t agree with such hatred. I feel that the upper classes are as much victims of bullying snobbery as everyone else. They may be winners within the system but they still have the emptiness of the fake relationships which can make that life such a pointless experience.
This book is an absorbing read which makes you deeply grateful for the sincere people in your life. After reading it, perhaps I should watch ‘The Castle’ again and enjoy the company of genuine people connecting without snobbery.