Cornelius sets the reader right into the tough trough of a city’s squalid underbelly. We can imagine ourselves looking into the concrete underpasses of whatever modern urban environment we may know, as a similar story could be written there a thousand times. The ending may be less kind, less relieved by love, but the story will be much the same. True life, sadly, often reads like this.
We are made to see how easy it is to fall so low that an unexpectedly dry corner in the most derelict of landscapes can come to feel like a treasure, a blessing even. Life can be so much worse than living in the shelter of a sturdy cardboard box with just enough mouldy bread or a nearby soup kitchen.
This is a story of continuing hope despite the worst of what life can throw at us, of dealing with whatever damage we are responsible for drawing onto ourselves, of dealing with the consequences of physical and mental abuse; a love story despite the engulfing scum. We are made to see how long and how tough the march from true poverty truly is.
Beautifully written, completely believable, a story that is often paralleled in some way by the real lives of societies all too real outcasts. The end was a great relief. We must finally remember that very few such badly blighted lives end with so much fulfilled hope. This third novel by Cornelius is as different as was each of the first two. Each one is of the same high quality. I will be reading Marsha Cornelius’s next work, whatever ‘genre’ she picks.