Challenging family relationships are too frequently a rite of passage in the process of growing up. In his first novel, ‘Miles Away’, NJ Edmunds adds stultifying dreams, mutilated corpses, suicide, occasional football games and finding a girlfriend, to the mix. The small town boy, Dacre, eases through school in the Seventies and begins a science degree at Aberdeen University.
Some of Edmunds’ best writing captures the difficulties of moving to a campus milieu, making friends and encountering others from a wide range of social backgrounds; he is particularly adept at the truncated and often ribald, verbal exchanges of the young.
He meets and falls for the glamorous Isla, an Arts student from a wealthy, Edinburgh background; she is a steadying influence on a guy, drowning in phobias. The character is well drawn as are the others in this readable first effort; Dr. Granville Sutton, an endearingly unconventional psychologist, has the potential to be the central anchor of a separate work.
Empathy is important to this reader and I frequently found myself identifying with scenarios from my own past, especially student life and the rare dreams that trouble us all at times. It is clear that Edmunds has done his research as the tale traverses Scotland, encapsulating Fife, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and the Highlands where Dacre seeks solutions to some of his tortuous dreams.
This is an intriguing yarn, maturely written with carefully crafted and choreographed characters, that is well worth a read.