The Emancipation of B review (Magnet magazine)

As a child, B had two conflicting dreams; one to be a knight defending the vulnerable; the other to be a hermit living in complete solitude. Something of a social misfit, B manages to engineer a cell of sorts from which he retreats from urban life, discovering a kind of freedom he hadn’t anticipated. Cut off from demands of daily living, B desires to explore ‘a different dimension’. Using Buddhist practices, he discovers ‘an emptiness, a letting go.’

The reader is drawn into B’s present, intrigued by the way he spends days unregulated by pressures of time and responsibility. Simultaneously, we discover B’s past as he himself comes to terms with it, particularly his home and family life, with all its tensions, hurts and rivalries. As the layers of his life are stripped back, B’s self perceptions change.

This is a beautifully written novel with a haunting central character. As I became more absorbed by B, I became fearful for him; at the end, wanting to know what might happen next.

On reflection, the story challenges us to reconsider more honestly our relationships with people and with the world around us, to turn away from the frenzy of contemporary living  towards a simplicity of being.