This month sees the publication of the debut novel from Samuel Fisher, a bookseller for an independent bookshop as well as a director of indie publisher Peninsula Press. And his debut, The Chameleon, is billed as a love letter to the book, which was something that immediately drew me to this story…
The Chameleon could be considered something of a love story, both about books, and between the people that read them. It follows the story of a family through the years, the memories that shaped them, and the impact of past events on their relationship through the years. In the early stages of the novel we meet a man who is approaching the final days of his life, but in this novel a man’s mortality is portrayed from the perspective of someone infinite, someone who has lived for centuries. What makes this story so interesting is that it is narrated by a book, a book that is able to shift and change through the years, adopting a new disguise, and becoming whatever the reader would want him to be. This was a concept I really enjoyed, and I liked the idea of a life glimpsed from the pages of a book, and of stories unfolding within stories. As the novel progresses we learn more about the life of Roger, and his family, the intricate and intimate moments from their lives, as their story is gradually pieced together, their history written.
I really enjoyed The Chameleon, and it was a story I read in only a couple of sittings. The character development and the uncovering of a family’s history made for an enjoyable read in itself but the use of the books and the interesting style of narration made it all the more fascinating. I loved the way in which this novel emphasised the importance of books in the lives of readers, how they are ever present in our homes, carried with us on our journeys, evocative of a certain time, place or memory. And it is not just Roger’s life that is told over the course of the novel, we also discover a little about life for this unusual narrator, John, and how his life began. This life which has spanned hundreds of years, bearing witness to so much began in the hands of a medieval anchoress, which was only the start of a remarkable journey through time. Throughout the novel fragments of history are woven together and harrowing memories brought to the surface, as we see a love through the years, and how the strength of this love proved crucial. At around 200 pages, this isn’t a particularly lengthy read, but despite that it seems to say so much within its pages, a story of love and literature, and a journey through history.
The Chameleon is an unusual little book, but one that that really appealed to me as a bibliophile with its intriguing concept. It is to be published on 15th April 2018 by Salt Publishing, with thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.