Book Club: The Continuity Girl by Patrick Kincaid
In 1969, the legendary film director Billy Wilder took his production team up to the wild highlands of Scotland to make a little-known film called The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes.
The result on set was a clash of cultures and lifestyles, as laid-back free-loving LA darlings met buttoned-up repressed Brits on the chilly shores of Loch Ness.
And this is where Patrick Kincaid sets his hot of the press debut novel, The Continuity Girl.
With action taking place across both 1969 and 2014, Kincaid includes plenty of nostalgia for the year of Armstrong’s moon landing (an event which provides the focus for a great scene
featuring a cameo from a certain vampiric chap called Christopher Lee, unless I am very much mistaken). But we are also firmly rooted in the twenty-first century, and have ample opportunity to reflect back on that fascinating time through present day sensibilities.
At its heart this is a book about life’s forks in the road. Those times when we come up
against a big old choice, in love, in work or in friendships. But it’s also about second chances.
The choices we make may sometimes be the wrong ones, or maybe we feel we have no real alternative. But what if we get the opportunity to do it all again?
To find the happiness that we didn’t manage to capture the first time around.
It’s all handled with a light touch, but there are some pretty profound things going on under the surface of Kincaid’s waters.
The insight into the Nessie-hunting projects of the late 60s is enthralling.
Whilst fictionalised, there is a real authenticity to the depictions of people who dedicated their lives to exploring the mysteries of this great loch. They may never have found the answers they were looking for, but that didn’t make the search itself any less important.
The Continuity Girl has enough sparkle and fun on the surface that we are carried along, almost without realising, with the deeper questions about how we tackle life’s big decisions, and decide what really matters.
This is an enjoyable story set against a fascinating backdrop, and I would recommend it to anyone even a little bit interested in the history of
film, or monster hunting at Loch Ness (which is everyone, surely?)