Paperback review: All is Song, By Samantha Harvey


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The Independent Culture

Returning to London after his father's death, Leonard moves in with his brother, William, a retired lecturer, who continues to meet with former students to discuss politics.

When one of them commits a crime, William is implicated in the trial, and he and Leonard reflect on the nature of guilt and agency.

Samantha Harvey's second novel is a languorous philosophical dialogue. It is slow but sensitively elegant. The brothers' discussions are dense and conceptually precise, repeatedly circling back to the same point. Likewise, Harvey's own prose articulates and re-articulates images and motifs, until they attain perfect, limpid expression: "We sculpt ourselves over time with our most persistent moods, as though our faces are dunes and our temperaments the winds that blow them into shape."