The Silver Wind
by Nina Allan
true to say I loved her at first sight, though I had no understanding
of her as a sister."
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi
This a short story collection, assembling five different tales, each
one a stand- alone piece. Yet, the five stories are linked,
interweaved, superimposed. The characters appear in more than one
story, sometimes changed, transformed and the relationships between
them keep changing in a fascinating kaleidoscope. Because this is
spellbinding, magical book where Nina Allan displays all her powerful
imagination, her incredible talent for solid storytelling, but also for
rewriting the reality in such a way that things are clearcut yet blurry
at the same time. She’s a writer and a sorceress, able to make the
unbelievable believable, so real that the reader is enveloped in a
fascinating web of images and words which are, at the same time,
colours and music.
main character starring in various stories is Martin Newland, an
individual fascinated, or, better, obsessed with watches and clocks,
which seem to mark somehow the different phases of his life. The
opening story, Time’s Chariot,
is the vivid portrait of an odd family featuring, among other members,
a long gone father, a generous uncle and a couple of incestuous kids.
The gift of a Longines watch for the boy’s eighteenth birthday and his
sister’s death are the turning points in the family history.
In the second tale My Brother’s Keeper,
Martin receives a watch as a birthday present but that happens
when he turns fourteen and the brand is Smith. Moreover he has lost a
brother - not a sister - Stephen, whose ghost comes to visit
him and who in the ends reveals to Martin that his real mother is
another woman. A fascinating puzzle, told in a beautiful narrative
the end of a month Henry and my mother took her to the doctor. I stayed
at home in my room, feeling terror for the first time in my life. There
was a sour taste in my mouth... It was a rare form of leukemia.
They tried giving her a transfusion but it didn’t work.
The Silver Wind
to me is an overlong, a bit confusing piece featuring a dwarf
clockmaker, in which Martin is a real estate agent trying to survive in
a bleak future world where criminals and mutants make life dangerous.
knew already from my encounters with Stephen that miracles could
happen, that the important thing was not what you saw or thought you
saw but the significance you attached to it. By the time we changed
trains at London Bridge I had made a decision: I would become a
connoisseur of time.
Martin loses his sister as an adult, not a child, and falls in love
with Miranda, a colleague living with a stern mother resembling the
woman described as Martin’s mum in the first story. And again, the
dwarf is there, unchanged from when Martin was a kid…
knew it was futile to wait but I waited anyway. Andrews had said we
would meet again and I somehow believed him. I sipped my drink and
scanned the faces in the crowd, hoping that one of them one day would
be the face of my friend.
The final tale Timelines: an Afterword leaves the mysteries unsolved and takes us back to the Smith watch, but in a different context.
thought of intimated contact with Edmund Wiley had always sickened her.
It was not just the fear that he would find her flat chest and bony
body repulsive; what she feared was the penetration of her body by
another, the idea that she might not be able to stand such dreadful
you don’t know Nina Allan yet, it’s high time you make your
acquaintance with an extraordinary writer of strange, dark fiction.
This book is an excellent opportunity.
watch had belonged to Andrew’s grandfather. It was a Smith watch, not
one of the rarer models, just one of the many thousands that the London
firm had manufactured for the army in the years leading up to World War