Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives

“Where is this paradise you seek,

A place where no one mourns,

And nothing is lost,

And nothing lost is irretrievable?”


This is the question that, found on a strange map in a missing colleague’s desk drawer, entices Stella Krakus to embark on a new adventure. Stella is being stalked by her soon-to-be ex-husband, is still dealing with the aftermath of a romance with her colleague, and is faced with the mysterious disappearance of another colleague, alongside other daily challenges such as her strained relationship with “Caro” – her mother. She also has dry wit and cynicism second to none – Lucy Ives creates a narrator that while initially aloof, some thirty or forty pages in is loveable and relatable. Stella is just trying to get through the day like the rest of us. Impossible Views of the World takes place over one week, with each section being separated by the day, giving way to the old notion that ‘you never know what’s around the corner’.

Ives’ writing style is different, somewhat dense, and initially requires some slowing down to fully appreciate and become fully immersed into it – she is a poet after all. The writing style slips, at times, into different forms. There are moments of poetry, listing, articles, and documents, all of which immerse you further into Stella’s experience of the week the novel spans. There are also two plots that run alongside each other: Stella’s immediate life focused on her relationships, and the sub-plot of discovering the meaning behind the historical artefacts, a chase that begins with the map and opens up the pseudo-historical life of a cluster of characters living in the 19th century. However, the history aspects in this novel are light and certainly secondary to Ives’ creation of Stella’s life.

Ives’ debut novel is described as being about “how to make it through your early thirties with your brain and heart intact”. Stella is a somewhat lost character in the midst of change – stumbling across a map, aiming to find the answers around it, provides stability to a character that reluctantly and irregularly reveals her deeper emotional issues such as heartache. Stella is a character that tries to shield weakness with humour and half-serious derogatory comments about herself and those around her. Ives writes with honesty about how to deal with a “tough week” that, while happening seems to be all-consuming, soon passes and things move forward. Look out for a truly satisfying moment declared to be “perfect” in which a certain character receives a strike to their nether regions… Stella becomes a women’s fiction hero.

Posted by Tanyel

Impossible Views of the World is published by Penguin Press

(£16.99,  Hardback, 9780735221536)

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