Book review: The Offing, Benjamin Myers

When you hear a book is about a young man meeting an older woman, you imagine a classic coming-of-age, sexual awakening story. But Benjamin Myer’s beautifully written The Offing couldn’t be more different.

The Offing, Benjamin MyersIt charts the development of a purely platonic relationship between 16-year-old coal miner’s son Robert and eccentric hard-drinking Dulcie, who lives alone in a cottage by the sea and who slowly invites Robert into her world and her heart, enabling them both to grow and change forever.

Myers’s prose in The Offing is almost poetic and frequently a love letter to the countryside. Robert’s awakening is partly to the beauty of the natural world. Discovering it helps him evolve from the pale skinny boy who left his Durham coal mining village to delay his destined life down the pit, into a tanned lean young man with an appreciation for nature, poetry and good food.

The Offing is set just after the Second World War. So Robert leaves a home where rations are still restricted and families are trying to put themselves back together after the ravages of the conflict. He meets bohemian Dulcie when he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. He’s bewildered that her cottage is falling apart but she has an endless supply of rich food, that she starts to cook for him.

So begins a friendship that sees both of The Offing’s protagonists benefit. While Robert grows in intellect and confidence, his presence and discovery of something Dulcie has long avoided, help her face and embrace the past.

I really enjoyed the book and as always I’d recommend reading it before the film that is in development is released. In my view, it’s always better to read the book first! But I am interested to see the film version of The Offing as Helena Bonham-Carter has been cast as Dulcie and she strikes me as being potentially perfect for the role.

I borrowed The Offing from my local library but you might also find it in a charity shop or online second-hand retailer like Oxfam or World of Books.

For more reviews and all things book-related keep an eye on the new Books section of my blog.



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