Publication Date: 03/10/2022 ISBN: 9781914595523 Category:

The Half-life of Snails

Philippa Holloway

Publisher: Parthian Books
Publication Date: 03/10/2022 ISBN: 9781914595523 Category:
Paperback / Softback


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Two sisters, two nuclear power stations, one child caught in the middle…

When Helen, a self-taught prepper and single mother, leaves her young son Jack with her sister for a few days so she can visit Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone, they both know the situation will be tense. Helen opposes plans for a new power station on the coast of Ynys Mon that will take over the family’s farmland, and Jennifer works for the nuclear industry and welcomes the plans for the good of the economy. But blood is thicker than heavy water, and both want to reconnect somehow, with Jack perhaps the key to a new understanding of one another.

Yet while Helen’s is forced to face up to childhood traumas, and her worst fears regarding nuclear disaster, during a trip that sees her caught up in political violence and trapped in Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone during the 2014 Euromaidan revolution,, Jennifer too must discover that even the smallest decision can have catastrophic and long-lasting effects, both within the nuclear industry, and within the home.

And Jack isn’t like other five-year olds…as they will both discover with devastating consequences.

Publisher Review

'A careful, tender and arresting story that explores how we're formed by the places we think we own - I was moved by this suspenseful and delicate novel.' Jenn Ashworth, author of Ghosted and Notes Made While Falling; 'Holloway has written a novel that shimmers with compassion, one that crosses borders of both nations and emotions. In telling the story of a mother's love for her son and an intimate, searing portrayal of survival set amidst the Ukrainian Maidan Revolution of 2014, the author has crafted a tale that will linger longer than the half-life of many other books you will read this year. Holloway's fascination with the intersection of where history meets everyday life has given us a story told with great skill, weaving together the legacy of Chernobyl and the tragedy of human arrogance. She gives us hope that each of us can act with grace and love even in the face of overwhelming disaster and a precarious world. Sadly for us, it is even more necessary for us to hear these stories today.' Alex Lockwood, author of The Chernobyl Privileges; 'I was drawn in and held until the final sentences ... a prescient, powerful and disturbing read.' Dr Phil Smith, psychogeographer; The Half-Life of Snails is that wonderful thing, a novel that can be read in several different ways. On the surface it is a gripping thriller, ripe for transfer to the big screen. But it also excels as an exploration of the geography of the human heart, which Holloway shows to be as difficult to navigate as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, for which there is no detailed and reliable map available.' Lunate; 'The author has crafted a beautiful yet unsettling story with a strong sense of place, accentuating the bond between humans and the landscapes they live in. The Half-Life Of Snails is a book to reflect on that will undoubtedly linger long after finishing.' Buzz; 'The Half-Life of Snails is a gripping story which speaks to a universal anxiety, not just about nuclear power, but about the environment as a whole. It explores the way we respond in crisis, and the things we hold onto most when everything seems under threat. More than that, it captures the genuine love of a family who, despite their flaws, care about one another deeply. A transformative read in a time of heightened complexity and division.' Wales Arts Review

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