As soon as I read her opening description of a murmuration, I knew that I was going to enjoy Katy Mahood’s debut novel, Entanglement. It’s the first of many such arresting images in this novel about those ‘moments’ we share with complete strangers.
On a hot October day in a London park, Stella sits in her red wedding dress opposite John.
Pregnant and lost in thoughts of the future, she has no idea that lying in the grass, a stone’s throw away, is a man called Charlie.
From this moment, Stella and Charlie’s lives are bound together in ways they could never imagine. But all they have is a shared glance and a feeling: have we met before?
Both the title and premise for Katy Mahood’s book derive from a quantum mechanics theory in which (and I am paraphrasing very loosely here) two entities temporarily share a space or interact, due to some indefinable pull, creating a link between them. That may be the science behind it but the book’s appeal lies in how recognisable and relatable this phenomenon is. We’ve all experienced times where we’ve shared a smile, an eye roll or more with a stranger, before continuing on our separate ways. And in Entanglement, Katy Mahood traces those fleeting moments when our lives bump up against those of others.
Entanglement follows the divergent paths of Stella, John and Charlie through almost thirty years from October 1977 to August 2007. It’s a span of time which will take in all the highs and lows of life from falling in love to near breakups to divorce, the joy, the boredom, the mistakes people make and the things they get right. How people change and grow together or apart, the compromises and adjustments they make along the way, how they deal with unfulfilled hopes and dreams and what they consider to be a successful or fulfilling life. It looks at the contrast between what’s important when you’re young and how that alters at different life stages or in the face of a milestone event.
Perhaps it’s because they first share a moment in Paddington station on my birthday that it’s Stella and Charlie’s characters who most captured my imagination. I had a real sense that shared moments gently reverberated through their lives, even if only a faint echo, and that other characters missed out on this by not being as open or present in that moment.
One of my favourite parts of the book is where Katy Mahood shares both Stella and Charlie’s version of the same event. It doesn’t always happen concurrently but seeing the other side of each encounter helped me to understand how these two affected one another. It changed something in me when I read it, and made me look more closely at my random interactions with other people, and even view them in a new light. I became more aware of how I was behaving towards others, as well as how they affected my mood.
Entanglement is a quietly perceptive novel about the connections we make, along with those ‘almost’ moments and near-misses, which we all experience. It’s bittersweet, almost melancholy in tone, but flashes of Katy Mahood’s beautiful description help lift this debut into something altogether more hopeful.
Entanglement is Katy Mahood’s debut novel which is published by The Borough Press, an imprint of Harper Collins. It is available as an audiobook, ebook, in hardback and paperback. You can find it at Amazon UK or buy it from Hive and support your local independent bookshop. You can follow Katy Mahood on Twitter.
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley and Amazon Vine.
I have a paperback to give away. Leave a comment below and the squirrels will pick a winner.