Following is another great book review by Angela Long!
- Title: Whiskey & Charlie
- Author: Annabel Smith
- Category: Adult Fiction
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark 2015 (First published as Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot in 2012)
Review by Angela Long for Welcome to my Library
Summary: Whiskey & Charlie is a captivating debut novel of brothers who have drifted apart and the accident that will determine their future, by an unforgettable new voice exploring the struggles and strengths of the sibling bond.
Some twins communicate in a secret language all their own. For Whiskey and Charlie Ferns, the two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies is the best they can do. But as the brothers grow up, they grow apart. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not – bold, daring, carefree-and Charlie blames his brother for always stealing the limelight, always striving ahead while seeming to push Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.
When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, he is shocked…although perhaps not devastated. But as days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to look back on their lives and examine whether or not Whiskey’s actions were truly as unforgivable as Charlie believed them to be.
Review: Whiskey & Charlie – brothers, twins, and antagonists: identical and yet nothing alike. Their bonds tenuously strung across a lifetime of rivalry.
Annabel Smith explores the relationship between the brothers through the eyes of Charlie, the younger of the twins. Younger by minutes, Charlie lives in the shadow of Whiskey, believing he lives a life of seconds. Yet as the story develops, we see that Charlie’s perspective is not always reliable; the narrative is twisted and dented by his experiences and bias. He has lived his life as a victim and most of that sentiment stems from his relationship with his brother, a little taller, a little braver. Now as Whiskey lies in a coma, hanging on to the last threads of life, Charlie is forced to face the choices he has made in their relationship. Through a series of vignettes he looks back through life shaping events, and as the months drag by he begins to acknowledge his own shortcomings. The twist of irony is that Charlie believes he must learn to forgive Whiskey when in fact it is himself he needs to redeem.
The structure of the novel is based on the two-way alphabet – a common interest to the twins and their special language growing up. Each chapter name relates loosely to the content and the alphabet provides the thread that eventually holds the brothers together. Although cleverly constructed this felt a little contrived. The narrative didn’t suffer but it wasn’t added to by the chapter titles, and most of the time I barely registered their connection as I hungrily turned the page to see where the next section would take me.
Annabel Smith has crafted a novel that is unsentimental – Charlie is not a likeable character. As this becomes more evident our empathy turns and lies alongside Whiskey as he silently hangs on to life. For me I wanted Charlie to ‘get it’ to see how his choices had affected him and his relationships with everyone close to him. My emotions were stirred; I felt angry for his long-suffering girlfriend Juliet and wanted to cheer when his best mate finally told ‘him it like it was’. Unable to give of himself, Charlie’s arrogance and pride are a mirror of the narcissism that he accuses Whiskey of. Charlie needs to change and although there are adjustments, he never undergoes a metamorphosis enough to be fully likeable. Interestingly it is this lack of change that gives Charlie his most human quality, the inability to be other than who you truly are. His edges have been honed but he would always be a little cynical, a little self-absorbed, a little bit Charlie. This is the success of the novel.
I stumbled upon Annabel on Twitter as she was launching her novel into the American market. After reading Whiskey & Charlie I look forward to reading more of her work.
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Author Bio:I am the author of Whiskey & Charlie (published in Australia as Whisky Charlie Foxtrot) digital interactive novel/app The Ark, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the West Australian Premier’s Book Awards. My short fiction and non-fiction has been published in iconic journals Southerly and Westerly, and I have been privileged to be selected as a writer-in-residence at Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre and the Fellowship of Australian Writers. I have been an invited guest, as panellist and chair, at Melbourne Writers Festival, Perth Writers Festival and regional festivals in Albany and Margaret River. I hold a PhD in Writing from Edith Cowan University, am an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellow, and a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press. I am currently working on Monkey See, an epic quest with a sci-fi twist featuring a monkey, an evil priestess and the mother of all tsunamis.
Visit Annabel Smith at www.annabelsmith.com
This book has been read and reviewed by Angela Long for WTML for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge. To read more about the challenge see their website www.australianwomenwriters.com.