From the acclaimed author of 26a, and winner of the inaugural Orange Award for New Writers, comes a dazzling new novel about the fight to achieve one’s dream, and an unsolved disappearance at the heart of a family.
As a child Lucas assumed that all children who’d lost their parents lived on water. Now a restless young man, and still sharing the West London narrowboat with his down-to-earth sister Denise, he secretly investigates the contents of an old wardrobe, in which he finds relics from the Midnight Ballet, an influential dance company of the 1960s founded by his Jamaican father, the charismatic Antoney Matheus.
In his search to unravel the legacy of the Midnight Ballet, Lucas comes into contact with people who were drawn towards Antoney’s bright and dangerous star. He hears of hothouse rehearsals in an abandoned Notting Hill church, of artistic battles and personal betrayals, and a whirlwind European tour. Most importantly, Lucas learns about Antoney’s passionate and tumultuous relationship with Carla, Lucas’s mother, and the events that led to his father’s final disappearance.
Vividly conjuring the world of 1950s Kingston, Jamaica, the Blues parties and early carnivals of Ladbroke Grove, the flower stalls and vinyl riflers of modern-day Portobello Road, and the famous leap and fall of Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, Diana Evans creates a haunting and visceral family mystery about absence and inheritance, the battle between love and creativity, and what drives a young man to take flight…
“Sparkles with mood, music and the sway of street life”
Eithne Farry, Marie Claire
“Evans interweaves the strands of her three-generation narrative with an exhilarating sense of place and period”
Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph
“The Wonder embraces its theme with great heart. It's hard not to be seduced by its talented, difficult hero”
“Bedazzling...the alluring fairytale quality of her story. Hauntingly good”
Eithne Farry, Daily Mail
“The novel is fuelled by the mystery at its heart, and by felicitous description...most striking is the delicacy and power in which Evans depicts emotional disturbance”
Maya Jaggi, The Guardian
“Diana Evans brings a style and technique to The Wonder that enhance the reader's immediate pleasure, and it is sustained throughout by her flair for the colourful phrase, for attention to detail ... The story is complex, clever, seamlessly achieved, its many currents blending in harmony, sometimes in conflict, to recreate that sense of randomness and accident that resemble the truth of life in the chancy present...The author's passion burns on the page, along with an almost tactile relish of the act of writing itself”
Tom Adair, Scotsman
“Like the movement of the dancers it describes, it feels always, captivatingly, 'meant'”
Stephanie Cross, Times Literary Supplement
“Evans...writes with eye-catching fluidity, gracefully pirouetting between Notting Hill in the 1990s, and the Caribbean a decade earlier”
Trevor Lewis, The Sunday Times
“Evans communicates the joy that comes out of, and the hard work that goes into, dance. She also has a keen eye and a neat way of communicating what she sees.”
The Sunday Herald
“The most dazzling depiction of the world of dance since Ballet Shoes'”
Kate Saunders, The Times