N.M. Browne’s Shadow Web

Posted: July 10, 2008 in alternating narratives, children's and young adult literature, N.M. Browne

Browne. N.M.  Shadow Web.  London: Bloomsbury, 2008.

I read this because I have a number of other novels by N.M. Browne in my “alternating narratives” project, and I think I might want to look at them as a group–why might one writer turn so often to the idea of telling the stories of different characters in alternating narratives?  This book is not, in fact, an alternating narrative–it’s all focalized through and told by the main character, a girl who meets someone with the same name as her own and ends up in an alternate London 2008.  So what’s interesting is that, while not alternating between two central characters, it does tell the story of two lives, the one belonging to the girl from our version of the world and the life she finds herself caught up in in the other world.  It would have been a different novel had we had another character with the same name experiencing this girl’s life in alternating chapters, but i can see why that might not work–the alternate girl would have unsettling strange preconceptions and understandings, etc., and perhaps her responses would be hard for readers to understand.  Still, Browne seems thoroughgoingly binary even without an alternating narrative:  We do get two worlds, stories, etc, implied, as our girl tries ot make sense of this familiar but very strange other London.  There is a second missing but implied narrative?

  1. N M Browne says:

    I like alternating narratives for fairly practical reasons – I like to write books that appeal to both boys and girls so generally have a viewpoint character of each gender.
    I wrote ‘Shadow Web’ because I had to take the doppelganger element out of my previous book (It was going to be an exploration of identity but didn’t work in its original form.) I think some readers did want both stories in SW, but I was only really interested in exploring the more exciting one which is in part about exploring the person Jess might have been had she lived in a more repressive society.I thought that it was more about identity than anything else, but I can see what you mean. I like the idea of this shadow person, another self, haunting Jess, and that haunting continues when she returns to her own world.

  2. […] appeal to both boys and girls so generally have a viewpoint character of each gender”  (see comment on “Shadow Web,”  July 11, 2008).  But Browne doesn’t give her boy and girl […]

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