Crossing Over by Ann Morgan

My enormous thanks to Will Dady of Renard press for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Crossing Over by Ann Morgan and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. It’s my privilege to share my review today.

Published by Renard Press tomorrow, 26th April 2023, Crossing Over is available for purchase here.

Crossing Over

Edie finds the world around her increasingly difficult to comprehend. Words are no longer at her beck and call, old friends won’t mind their own business and workmen have appeared in the neighbouring fields, preparing to obliterate the landscape she has known all her life. Rattling around in an old farmhouse on the cliffs, she’s beginning to run out of excuses to stop do-gooders interfering when one day she finds an uninvited guest in the barn and is thrown back into the past.

Jonah has finally made it to England – where everything, he’s been told, will be better. But the journey was fraught with danger, and many of his fellow travellers didn’t make it. Sights firmly set on London, but unsure which way to turn, he is unprepared for what happens when he breaks into Edie’s barn.

Haunted by the prospect of being locked away and unable to trust anyone else, the elderly woman stubbornly battling dementia and the traumatised illegal immigrant find solace in an unlikely companionship that helps them make sense of their worlds even as they struggle to understand each other. Crossing Over is a delicately spun tale that celebrates compassion and considers the transcendent language of humanity.

My Review of Crossing Over

Edie and Jonah’s lives are about to collide.

Crossing Over was a complete surprise. I was rather expecting an easy read portraying the relationship between two unlikely companions, but instead what I got was an intelligent, thoughtful, profound and affecting multi-layered narrative that ought to be compulsory reading for every politician because it illustrates to perfection the lives of two people for whom convention and rules are unworkable and inappropriate. I thought Crossing Over was incredibly powerful. It’s descriptive, moving and beautifully written with a Dylan Thomas type of intensity in its language and a Shakespearean pathos that I found intriguing, mesmerising and far more emotional than I’d anticipated. 

There’s deep emotion and occasional dark humour mixed with uncomfortable themes of PTSD and dementia, refugee lives and family relationships, racism, war and corruption as well as small community dynamics so that Ann Morgan portrays life in all its nuances in Crossing Over. This is a book that makes the reader think and to ponder it long after the final page is read. 

I loved the way the chapter headings are random and confusing, just like the eddying memories and experiences swirling in both Edie and Jonah’s minds. I thought this was an inspired aspect of the text and the manner with which the two main characters’ stories blend and cross over is skilfully wrought so that echoes between their lives feel natural as well as surprising and entertaining. 

Both characters are richly depicted because Ann Morgan gets right inside their minds, presenting their innermost thoughts with all their flaws, feelings and obsessions with a kind of brutal tenderness that feels astonishing. Through their past lives we come to understand their present selves to perfection.

The plot of Crossing Over appears deceptively simple in that two people find themselves sharing the same house, but that belies the sensitive and layered way Ann Morgan illustrates how we become who we become. She shines a spotlight on the way our past affects us and how the expectations about us from other people, including their prejudices and mis-judgements, are often facets of life we simply can’t escape.

Crossing Over is a beautiful, sometimes stark, and disturbingly realistic exploration of otherness and similarity that blends two disparate cultures into one simple humanity in an affecting, sobering and compelling narrative. I thought it was an incredibly pertinent and sobering tale that deserves a wide audience. 

About Ann Morgan

Ann Morgan is an author, speaker and editor based in Folkestone. Ann’s writing has been published widely, including in the GuardianIndependent and Financial Times, and by the BBC. In 2012, she set herself the challenge of reading a book from every country in a year – a project that led to a TED talk and to the non-fiction book Reading the World: How I Read a Book from Every Country. Her debut novel, Beside Myself, has been translated into eight languages. Crossing Over, her latest novel, draws on her experience living just a few minutes from where many of the small boats crossing the Channel land. She is Literary Explorer in Residence of the Cheltenham Literature Festival for 2022 and 2023.

For more information, visit Ann’s website and follow her on Twitter @A_B_Morgan. You’ll also find Ann on Instagram.

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