Hellooooooooooo! It is my absolute pleasure to kick off the blog tour for this wonderful book. This is Richard’s debut novel and is a well-wrought story about grief and the weight of memory.
It was a dog walker who found the body that Thursday morning after the storm. It lay face down at the base of the sea wall, trapped under one of the larger jawbones.
Mike has handed in his proposal for his dissertation, it’s time to have a blow out down at the local with his friends. It’s a night full of laughter, debate, flirting, booze and passion. It’s a night to remember.
The next day, a body is found at the base of the sea wall. Like the waves, everything comes crashing down around the group of friends, and St Andrews is consumed with grief and a sense of gloom.
Mike plays the events of the previous night, over and over, rebuilding conversations in his head and trying to figure out why someone who seemed full of life and fun, is now gone.
Luckily for Mike, the perfect distraction has arrived in the form of an archaeology site right next to the campus. With Dr Reed allowing Mile to help out, alongside the postgrad students, it’s not long before Mike’s mind opens up to something other than grief – now he’s able to focus on the ancient plague burial site and ask the ‘whys’, the ‘hows’ and the ‘when’.
As days turn into weeks, Mike continues to reap the benefits of manual labour to the soul, but shutting everything else out is causing problems for his other coursework and his mates.
Parties, girls and plenty of booze lulls Mike back into uni life but tension is bubbling in the friendship group and it seems further run-ins with the police, and a trip to the hospital are on the cards.
This is a very unique plot that captivates the reader by homing in on how grief affects a person, when the person who has died, was only with them for a short time. Grief is felt by all – by those who have known the person all their lives, those who have shared long and eventful journeys together, and those who have only the briefest but powerful of connections. Watching Mike work through the stages of grief in the chaos of student life, created a poignant reminder that grief affects us all in different ways.
Bray captures student life perfectly – endless cups of tea, far too much booze and games that thrive on bringing people out of their comfort zones. Whilst I knew nothing about St Andrews before this book, I have been to uni, and so much in this plot resonated with me. I’m also grateful to now know about the uniqueness of St Andrews’ geographical setting!
In uni, your flatmates become your family, and Mike is surrounded by an eccentric bunch. Bray has created characters that support Mike but also show the unconventional nature of grief and the wide variety of emotions that are heightened, with sometimes shocking intensity, after a death.
Well written with a distinctive, intimate setting – it’s a highly absorbing book that encapsulates the reader in a time of reflection.
Material Remains will be hitting the market on 7 February 2019 in paperback and eBook forms from Unbound. Fancy finding out a bit more about it? Why not check out the other posts that will be popping up over the next week:
Thank you to Anne Cater for organising another wonderful blog tour!
Until next time, Chloé x