The Artificial Anatomy of Parks by Kat Gordon

anatomy-parksAn enigmatic title potentially lending itself to an obscure dissertation on the declining importance of greenspaces in modern day leisure does in fact subtly convey the emotional dissection of the Parks family seen through the eyes of Tallie, the daughter of a seemingly happy couple whose unquestioning love is replaced by only unanswered questions following a tragic accident.

The plot’s development is given literal structure by the use of anatomical form; skin, bones and blood given life and death by the heart. By using the body as a narrative framework we are presented with an analogy for Tallie’s
spiritual journey from innocence into a void of detachment, distrust and dark rumours before the heart is discovered and with it redemption and hope.

This is Kat Gordon’s first novel and the English graduate, from Somerville College graduate, demonstrates the prose style of an emotional detective picking up the pieces of the main character’s traumatised past and by using contrasting recollections of clarity and darkness the reader is carried through her painful adolescent years immersed in a kaleidoscope of images only given definition by the unexpected denouement.

Hanging over this traumatic tale is the spectre of the dissolute Uncle Jack whose exact relationship with Evelyn, Tallie’s mother, is alluded to but only confirmed in the surprising climax. The two characters are in many ways the
clash of hope and despair with the all­pervading evil of Grandfather Albert permeating the souls of all the characters.

Gillian and Vivienne are the pantomime villains, of the supporting cast of characters, providing humour and painful truths in equal measure. Ironically it is their sibling clashes that provide some light relief to the real drama of
Tallie’s search for her father Edward whose heart is literally and metaphorically clinging to life.

Ultimately, like a surgeon, the author cleverly strips back the physical and psychological layers of the past to reveal the hidden truth and possible cure for Tallie’s tortured soul.

The Artificial Anatomy of Parks by Kat Gordon
published by Legend Press – £8.99

This review originally featured in the Oxford Times

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