Dot by Araminta Hall
Published by Harper Collins
2nd January 2014
In a higgledy-piggledy house situated in a sleepy Welsh village, two girls play hide and seek within its maze of tunnels and range of turrets. Squeezed under her mother’s bed, Dot’s hand brushes against a long-forgotten photography of a man, his hair blowing in the breeze. Dot stares so long at the photograph the image begins to disintegrate before her eyes, leaving her with just one thought: ‘it’s him.’
They were playing a game of hide and seek, as they so often did. Some people might have seen it as a lack of imagination , but as both Dot and Mavis displayed so much imagination in later life, it seems more likely a fact of circumstance. Druith is after all miles from anywhere, sunk in a low, damp Welsh valley, and Dot’s house suggested itself to hide and seek in a multitude of ways. Not that two ten-year-old girls were aware of any of this. They didn’t even find Dot’s house strange: it was still nothing more than a marker in their childhood landscape, and the fact that the floors tipped, cupboard doors opened into secret passages and a concealed turret sprouted out of the side of the house washed over them. The only thing they were beginning to find amusing were the plates with Dot’s grandmother inexplicably chose to hang on the walls. ‘What next?’ they’d whisper to each other. ‘Will we be eating off paintings?’ Although one glance at the heavy oils of permanently displeased relatives and windswept landscape made this seen very unlikely.
Unlike her first novel Everything and Nothing Araminta Hall has moved away from the crime/thriller genre and written a novel about families and relationships and the twists and turns of life that can undoubtedly change not only your life but those around you.
Focusing on three generations of women, Dot is a well written novel encompassing a whole host of characters. I liked that fact that there were no real secondary characters in the book; everyone had a chapter where they got the opportunity to explain themselves. What begins with two school friends playing hide and seek, turns into something much more complex.
Dot’s father leaves her on her second birthday. But who is he, and why did he leave? Her mother rarely leaves the house they share with their grandmother, and she isn’t telling Dot anything. Why do both Dot and Mavis both have the same red hair? And later on, why do the girls’ plans for university both take a dramatic turn? Araminta Hall weaves together a fantastic tale of two families who on the outside appear to have nothing in common but as the story progresses, you realise that appearances are not what they seem.
Having loved Everything and Nothing, I was eager to read Araminta Hall’s second novel. There is no comparison. Whilst I have loved reading both, they are of completely different genres, which, is an amazing feat for a new author to accomplish. With a whole host of complex characters, and twists and turns to keep you reading, Dot is an enjoyable novel of ordinary people and what how the events around us can shape who we ultimately become.
Miss Chapter x