Elephanta Suite, by Paul Theroux

Reviewed by Isabelle Kenyon


(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007)

Theroux has a gift – it is almost as though I can picture him in India, observing the people there so completely that they come to life on his page.

Elephanta Suite consists of 3 stories. The first seems to come to an end all too soon – I wanted to see where this discontented English couple ended up. (Spoiler) Their death is assumed, but this seems a cheap trick – let them live out the consequences of their actions and please the reader who feels as though she knows this complex couple intimately.

All of Theroux’s characters are complex and so is the reader’s relationship with them. It is the last story, Alice, that stays with me. In the light of the recent “MeToo” Campaign, this story, and the way in which Alice chooses to enact revenge and seek justice –something the courts do not give her—is so poignant. Theroux’s talent embodied in how completely he understands the thought process of Alice’s young adult mind. Alice’s sarcasm, self – awareness and self-discovery are endearing and engaging.

Isabelle Kenyon is a Guildford based poet and a graduate in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance from the University of York. She is the author of poetry anthology, This is not a Spectacle, and micro chapbook, The Trees Whispered, published by Origami Poetry Press. She is also the editor of MIND Poetry Anthology ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’. Her poems have been published in many poetry anthologies and included in literary festivals, such as Anti Heroin Chic, Literary Yard, Bewildering Stories, The Inkyneedles anthology, the Great British Write Off, the Wirral festival of Music, Speech and Drama, Poetry Rivals, and the Festival of Firsts. Isabelle has been awarded third place in the Langwith Scott Award for Art and Drama and runner up in the Visit Newark Poetry Competition. You can read more about Isabelle and see her work at www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk

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