The Quality of Light
"..Collins deftly pieces together the anatomy of a relationship, imagining what could have been, and offering a hint of hope for what might still come to pass" -- The Guardian
"...this is another powerful, intriguing novel by Richard Collins. his poignant final scene is truly impressive and will reverberate in the mind for a long time to come." -- New Welsh Review
Bristol Book of the Week -- Bristol Evening Post
The city is one part tarmac and stone, one part memory and imagination. It is a coming together of past, present and future. It is perhaps, a meeting place and a turning point for three people whose lives have touched before.
Isabel is here to start a new job and a new life. Michael has always been here, but now, struggling with illness, everything looks different. And Daniel has come to think about a relationship and to look after a cat. He is quite certain that he did not come to this place to revisit the past...
The Quality of Light is a lyrical novel of love, time and geography from Whitbread-shortlisted author Richard Collins.
Review from The Guardian
A love affair full of tantalising promise lies at the heart of Collin's novel. Yet ironically, given its all-consuming, angst-ridden nature, it remains unconsummated. This failure to get "horizontal together" is perhaps partly the reason why the time putative lovers Daniel and Isabel share seems so precious. Several years later, and no longer in touch, they wander separately around the same city, revisiting their memories of an art project they both participated in, "Psychogeography for Beginners". Meanwhile, Michael, the artist who headed the project, also meanders round the city, similarly preoccupied with the past and fearful of a future his diagnosis with Parkinson's seems to render hopeless. Everyday objects and scenes are transformed into tableaux of immense emotional significance. Employing a shifting narrative which flits between past and present and unfolds via the memories of his three central characters, Collins deftly pieces together the anatomy of a relationship, imagining what could have been, and offering a hint of hope for what night still come to pass.
Anna Scott, Guardian
Review from Western Mail
Richard Collins’ psychogeographers in The Quality of Light are the most grounded participants of an urban art project. Another classic of dual mapping, this novel overlaps prisms of place, viewpoint and timeframes. Collins’ latest prove, just like Perrins, Hughes and Sinclair, that Wales’ authors understand place better than most.
Gwen Davies, Western Mail
Review from New Welsh Review
Like the author's prize-winning debut novel The Land as Viewed from the Sea, The Quality of Light is a novel about perspective: the way we see things and how this differs depending on where we stand, who we are, and the personal significance of the object viewed. In The Land as Viewed from the Sea, this theme was developed through the movement back and forth between 'reality' and a semi-fictional past: a novel, also called The Land as Viewed from the Sea, written by one Collins' characters, in which past events were re-imagined in fictional form. While The Quality of Light does not blur fact and fiction in quite the same way, it too takes the shape of meditation on the past, as three different characters in the present - all now living separate lives - reflect on the events that brought them together, and eventually separated them, six years previously. When it comes to writing about doomed love affairs, Richard Collins is clearly in his element. As in his earlier novel, Collins transform what is potentially quite banal material into gripping page- turner, as each chapter peels away another layer of the mystery surrounding his characters' past.
However, the novelist's skill resides not just in his ability to structure his material effectively, but in the delicately poised sentences and poetic clarity of his writing. As a novelist, Collins rarely makes a false step: while always ready to highlight the significance of an event, he hardly ever forces significance on the reader and is sensitive to the need for restraint when telling his story.
This is another powerful, intriguing novel by Richard Collins. The poignant final scene is truly impressive and will reverberate in the mind for a long time to come.
Harri Roberts New Welsh Review 2011