The latest book review from Views From The Ridge.
Mark Fryday is a UK (Cambridgeshire) based author who originally hailed from the North East of England. His first novel, Collapse of the Wave (Tales from The Red Lion Book 1) was, at first glance, a simple story of a bloke called Dan, who spent a lot of time down his local English pub. However, within a chapter, you realised that the story was a lot more complex. In fact, the funny, poignant, with sharply drawn observations of mundane happenings, Collapse of the Wave was actually a marvellous study of love in all its guises. From ex-lovers to good friends, from close family to casual acquaintances, each was examined in detail and we were guided on that examination by the gentle soul of Dan. It was published back in 2016 and I hoped for a sequel. For the last two years then I have patiently waited for another chance to catch up for a pint with Dan.
At last, the wait is over and yes, it was worth it.
Another English Civil War was released in July and revisits Dan, the Red Lion pub and his friends.
It is a beautiful novel that is, like book one, so much more than the story of a bloke who drinks real ales in a pub.
I mean, granted, Dan, our hero (and he is a real hero) is indeed that bloke. He definitely does drink real ales in a pub. Quite a lot of them, mostly full-bodied, but the pathos, wit and prose of Mark Fryday’s writing is the real body of this story.
I found myself buoyed along, smiling at Dan’s banter, hoping he wouldn’t choose the ‘wrong’ girl and being beguiled by the care and yes, the love he shows his friends. He is, at his core someone who wants to do something worthwhile with his time. However, the man is certainly not all joy and light. Far from it. The tragedy of his unspoken burden, the demons he wrestles with and the excruciatingly sad, yet beautifully poignant way he observes how dementia decreases one old gentleman, all combine to make Dan, this ‘guy that drinks in a pub’ one of my favourite literary characters. Ever. Perhaps it is because I knew so many like him in real life. Perhaps.
It is a too often used phrase in reviews that “I can’t wait for the next in the series…” In this case, whilst undeniably true and I certainly hope Fryday has indeed got his typing fingers hammering the keys again, I can wait if the writing will be as good as book 1 & 2. In fact, I can always nip down to my local and help pass the time. I can only hope that I run into Dan.