Welcome to the fifth day of the Fake blog tour! Below you will find my book review for this adult novel by author Roz Kay. I will not be revealing any spoilers in my review.
Many thanks go to Emma from Damppebbles Blog Tours for putting together this tour, and for inviting me to participate alongside a number of great bloggers. You can find the complete Blog Tour schedule, as well as more information on the author and where to get a copy of the book, at the bottom of this post. For more thoughts and reviews for Fake, click here.
Content Warning: infidelity, misogyny, heart attack related death
James Cowper-art dealer, gambler, thief-is going straight and on the brink of redeeming himself with his disillusioned wife, Imani. He’s still broke, but all he needs to take care of that is a rare art find. Then trouble arrives in the shape of a scheming landlord and an unwelcome dinner party with his boss. As events spin out of his control it appears that nobody, including Imani, is what they pretend. And over everything looms one make-or-break question for James: can he get a grip on his exploding life?
In the acknowledgements, Roz Kay explains how “Fake started life as a full-length play.” It is easy to picture it as such: the rooms of the house in which the story mainly takes place can certainly be visualized as parts of a set; the punchy dialogue entertains while emphasizing the significance of each situation; and even the open-ended conclusion would perhaps satisfy any theater-goer (this reviewer perceives cliffhangers as a riskier choice to present to novel readers).
Considering all of this, however, does not take away from its published novel form – Fake is in fact a quippy, fast-paced novel that reflects the messiest parts of the calamitous lives of its characters. This is not a story for someone who needs at least one redeemable character – though Imani is certainly the closest to this – or someone who depends on a complex plot – though the rise to the crescendo of this story is heart-pounding – but for readers obsessed with characters clashing, compromising, and figuring out themselves and others, Fake is incredibly alluring.
The visual arts are a significant component to the story, not only as James’ livelihood, but in the structure of the book itself. Each chapter shares a title (referenced) with a work of art, and it’s quite pleasing to see this symbolic representation at the beginning of each scene. Thinking further about these headings may lead to the consideration of the title of the entire book; “fake” is a significant word in the visual arts world, but it also holds implications within personal relationships. What is being hidden, and why? Who is being fooled? Who is not? These are the questions threaded through each complicated, disastrous, detestable, and sentimental conversation.
To add to this, the interesting and authentic dialogue written by Roz Kay really does make the reader – or, at least, this reader – develop strong feelings for the characters. Sympathy, disgust, annoyance, hope – a true whirlwind. And through the whirlwind, delightful descriptions of the setting, food, or philosophical ideas; just when the story starts to feel a little erratic, the severity is slightly soothed with an awareness of surrounding beauty.
Toeing the line between keeping things together and tragic disaster, the story itself is certainly not a walk in the park. Disaster feels imminent, and even the ending doesn’t promise better days. But even through the tragedy of it all, the ridiculous and sometimes shocking elements give the effect of humorous unbelievability. Roz Kay continues to pile on the ill-fortune of the characters, and yet, there’s a playfulness to it all. Whether you see the story as a tragicomedy, a straight-up tragedy, or abhorrent, there’s no doubting Roz Kay’s ability to adequately effect the reader.
Roz Kay is a writer and former journalist. Her debut children’s novel, The Keeper of the Stones, was published in March 2020 by Hayloft Publishing and she’s had literary short stories published under the name Roz DeKett. Roz, who now lives in Wiltshire, England, has lived in Ghana, Canada, Malaysia, Brunei, and the United States—including nearly six years in Philadelphia where Fake is set. Fake is her debut novel for adults.