Life was almost perfect until he left them.Blurb of ‘The Gift of Foresight’
Will was a good man, torn and confused.
Alyss was bitter, hurt, and lonely.
Harriet could never see what she always knew was there.
They always loved each other.
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The Gift of Foresight is an intriguing and, at times, moving debut novel by Raven Knox, published by Ghost and Ribbon. It follows a fractured family – Alyss, Will and their daughter Harriet – as they each explore and come to terms with the ripples caused by Will and Alyss’ divorce, an event which takes place at the start of the book in an emotionally devastating flashback scene.
This is a novel which deals with divorce and disability; two weighty topics that are rarely explored in literature in one narrative, especially from the perspective of a young, disabled teenage girl. Knox explores this with a thoughtful and at times poignant hand, and I am a firm believer that representation in novels is important in today’s age so this is particularly wonderful to see tackled. To deal with such messy and stigmatic topics such as these is something that Knox should take credit for exploring and basing her novel around.
As the arguable main character of this piece, Harriet is a perceptive and bright girl who tries to navigate the choppy emotionally fraught waters left in the wake of her parent’s divorce since Will (her father) walked out 10 years ago. It is made clear that she harbours hopes that they might get back together, a drive that influences and shapes her behaviour in this book. She is also blind. Whilst I would say this is not the main point upon which Knox focuses her novel, it is still hugely important and rears its head at particular chosen moments in the text where it is discussed. It also makes for a simultaneously heart wrenching and heart-wrenching final chapter in the book.
“If knowledge and foresight are too penetrating and deep, unify them with ease and sincerity”Xun Kuang, Chinese Philosopher (a quote used in the foreword of the book)
Will and Alyss’ relationship is a little more difficult to track, with their scenes and conversations at times slipping into melodrama, but Knox manages to teeter her work on the side of believability when it comes to this divorced couple. As the reader, we are granted a unique view, seeing every facet of these characters from their arguments to their quieter, more emotive moments. Their respective personalities take shape as the novel progresses, and you understand more how they met and fell in love in flashback scenes and discussions with other characters, which adds more depth and plausibility to Harriet’s desire to see her parents back together.
However, at times the book has a jumbled narrative voice and perspective – especially since Harriet’s blindness is aptly described and then, at times, strangely forgotten (for instance, there are times that she can “see” certain things – a jarring point which meant I had to re-read sentences to figure out just whose perspective this related to).
Despite this, I feel that Harriet’s characterisation is one aspect of Knox’s writing that is particularly strong. She is shown to be a normal teenage girl, with hopes and dreams and fears, and comes across as headstrong and funny. She is loved in spite of her disability and not alienated or ostracised for it. This is a refreshing approach I have not seen depicted much in novels, and is a welcome inclusive addition, which does much to break down any stigma perhaps associated with this disability.
At its core, this book is about the raw, tangled, messier parts of human relationships and the emotions that come with it. Although a little heavy-handed in the message it tries to present, it should not diminish the message it focuses on. Family and the relationships are poignant, complex things, and The Gift of Foresight aptly captures this with its unique, emotional perspective.
About the book:
10% of the profit made by Ghost and Ribbon Limited per sale of this hard-copy book purchased by the consumer (plus VAT) shall be paid to RNIB Enterprises Limited which covenants all its taxable profits to RNIB, a registered charity with charity number 226227. RNIB have neither endorsed nor contributed towards the content of this book.