The Golden Orphans
“You are the painter?” he repeated. I nodded.
” Mr Prostakov wishes to extend you an invitation to his home…” he handed me a card from his jacket pocket;”…at noon tomorrow”
Today I am joining novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster Gary Raymond on tour with his new literary thriller, The Golden Orphans.
It is described as ‘dark, fast-paced….in the tradition of Graham Greene and Patricia Highsmith but with a fresh, contemporary touch that is all it’s own’
I have my review for you all today and would like to thank Emma over at #damppebblesblogtours for inviting me on board.
About the Book:
Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…
Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…
The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.
‘Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…’
The Golden Orphans was a trip into the unknown for me, as I had absolutely no expectations before I opened the first page. I was unprepared for the literary style used by Gary Raymond, which I found extremely poetic, beautiful and quite intense.
The Golden Orphans tells the tale of an artist who has fallen on his luck. His relationship with his girlfriend is in difficulty, as financial concerns are slowly destroying their relationship. A surprise summons to attend a funeral of his old colleague and mentor, Francis Benthem, in Cyprus takes our narrator on quite a profound journey.
Our unnamed narrator attends this rather stark and lonely affair with questions buzzing around his head. Why was he summoned? What was Francis Benthem doing here in Cyprus? Beginnings of frustration set in but a calling card is left for him to call to the house of a wealthy Russian, an eccentric man who was the benefactor of Francis Benthem.
He soon discovers that Francis Benthem painted for this Russian, Illy Prostakov and had set up house on the private grounds of this man to assist him in a very bizarre activity, as he searches through his dreams for the elusive group, known as The Golden Orphans. This quest is now being handed over from teacher to pupil, as Prostakov wishes to continue his peculiar personal crusade to uncover a mystery that has frustrated and pained him for years.
As a reader we are taken on a magical journey through the streets and sounds of the villages of Cyprus. The descriptions are just beautiful, with each town painted in it’s own unique fashion, but it is that of Famagusta that haunts.
Famagusta is a town that exists in Cyprus, now known as The Ghost City, a place that was once considered the most exceptional of the island. Following the Turkish and Cypriot troubles in 1974, the city was abandoned, left to ruin into a shadow of it’s former beauty. It still has the signs of glory that would have existed in it’s heyday but now it’s a city full of haunted memories.
Gary Raymond uses the story of Famagusta as the background to the Russian’s eccentric and tormented behaviour, as he searches for something among the rubble, something he is looking for through the painting of his dreams.
I know this might all sound a little airy but I really do not want to give too much away. There is a mysteriousness to this novel that is quite surreal at times but yet brilliant in it’s formulation. The Golden Orphans is a short novel, at approximately 150 pages, but boy does it pack a literary punch. This is a quite a cryptic story as you follow threads and are never too sure who is really of good character and who is not. Suspicions are rife making for a very fascinating read.
Curious. Intelligent. Thrilling. Fascinating.
Purchase Link ~ The Golden Orphans
Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.
Twitter ~ @GaryRaymond_