Burden, The

Burden, The

A Family Saga

Frank will do anything to keep his mother and father apart. But he's carrying baggage - and it might just weigh him down ...


CATEGORIZED IN

Frank is a reformed alcoholic. He lives at home with his mother, Elisabeth – at least, he did until she went into a nursing home suffering from dementia. He is devoted to her and conversely hates his estranged father, Geoffrey. So when elder sister Pat calls to tell him Dad is dying and wants to meet him, Frank is forced to face up to his demons. But what are they? And how did he acquire them?
Every family has its secrets and Frank's is no exception. As much as he tries to forget, something happened a long time ago that has coloured his life ever since - and he can't live in peace until he confronts it.
Seen from the perspective of four separate family members, The Burden examines an individual's contrasting relationships and the different emotions they inspire.

REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS

The book is a family based saga, with a few chapters given over to each of the family members. The mother, Elizabeth, is in a residential home when we meet her and her two children, Pat and Frank, are adults. They were deserted by their father, Geoffrey, as small children, but he returns to make demands on them as a dying old man. The book explores their back stories, their personalities and motivating influences. The descriptions of life being brought up in a caravan are particularly good, and the sensitive portrayal of Elizabeth's mild dementia. The book holds the interest and is pleasant to read, often humourous. The characters are believable. You want to find out how they will respond to Geoffrey, now he needs them in his last weeks. There is a surprise ending which is refreshing. All in all a very enjoyable read. ~ Annie McLaren, Amazon

‘The Burden’ is the second full length novel by N.E. David after the publication of ‘Birds of the Nile’ in 2013. A novel set in York and seemingly dealing with the run-of-the-mill challenging and emotive events that Life throws at us, until a secret is exposed that none of us would wish to uncover. Frank is an army veteran and recovering alcoholic attempting to get his life back on track when his father, after a lifetime’s absence, wants to see him. We follow the various events that lead up to this request - the highs, lows, excitements and disappointments that makes life the rollercoaster ride it often proves to be. The story is told from the perspective of 4 family members, including Frank, each relating their own part of the story. There are some strong characters, and some are often cliched, but none are judged by the author - that judgement is left to the reader, to evaluate the characters for their good and bad points. The fact that we see the story from several perspectives, although they refer to different sections, allows us a special insight - we are privy to more information than the characters individually. It also gives us chance to understand the characters better and develop compassion for them as we see how their unique experiences have shaped them. ‘The Burden’ offers humour, drama and love - the mainstays of ‘Life’, all written with an appreciation of the characters’ feelings. However, the book could easily be seen as a parody of ‘Life’, but a parody that leads us to some tough questions - are we really in love? Or do we just think we are? In the end, it begs the question whether the life we live is ours and unique to us, or whether our experiences are shared the world over, just the details being different. Almost a world away from the storyline and setting of ‘Birds of the Nile’, ‘The Burden’ is emotive and thoughtful account of delicate subjects dealing with dementia, end of life care, sibling rivalry and attachment. Published to the same quality by Roundfire as ‘The Birds of the Nile’, this novel grabs you and keeps you reading to the end, in a desire to know what gives the book it’s title. Nothing, however, could prepare us for the revelation that is ‘The Burden’. ~ L Blythe, Amazon

I read and enjoyed NE David's first novel, Birds of the Nile and have waited in anticipation for his follow up. I have not been disappointed with his latest offering The Burden. Oh what a tangled web he decided to unravel with his exploration of the intricacies of family life and the interaction between the family members. You may feel you know the characters well, I'm sure you do, we all know them, they are about us every day, a little in this person some more in that. His characters are not super humans or larger than life they are the characters of life. When I put the novel down after the last page was flicked and the covers closed I was reminded of the Hollies song, " Look through any Window" This book is that window. ~ MW Blythe, Amazon

I received an advance review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. The Burden is a fascinating amalgamation of diverse characters, woven into a luxuriant tapestry of plot lines from Alzheimer's to single motherhood, abandonment to alcoholism, and all whilst being portrayed through various periods of the characters' lives. The many surprises along the way were more than enough to keep me interested and I was curious to know exactly what this 'burden' was. What I love about N E David's writing is I never know what to expect next and he doesn't stick to only one genre. It's always hard to follow a good first novel, but the author has managed it more than capably. ~ Sooz Buch, Amazon

I've just finished reading The Burden and I want to say how much I enjoyed it. The story is based around the thoughtful and detailed analysis of the members of a family. Not all of them entirely likeable but we can empathise with even the less attractive characters as we have all experienced the same dilemmas in some form. A thoroughly engaging read. ~ CA Mathews, Amazon

"Happy families are all alike - every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Tolstoy's famous quote from Anna Karenina could be the motto for this thoughtful novel of the strain and stresses of 21st century life. There may not be much similarity between the milieu of The Burden - with meetings in Tesco - and the palace ball's of Anna's Russia, but the troubles are not so different. The problem a writer has to master when he's writing about people who are fighting their way through problems is to lift rather than depress the reader - to make them feel sufficiently engaged with the characters to want to carry on reading. And Nick David achieves that difficult literary trick with consummate skill. He does it partly by seeing the different points of view as the characters work their way through their relationships with one another. There is plenty here for readers to identify with. The Burden - a forbidding title. But not a forbidding book to read. ~ PF Bartram, Amazon

I've just finished reading The Burden and I want to say how much I enjoyed it. The story is based around the thoughtful and detailed analysis of the members of a family. Not all of them entirely likeable but we can empathise with even the less attractive characters as we have all experienced the same dilemmas in some form. A thoroughly engaging read. ~ RAB, Amazon

I read this book in three or four sittings over the course of a couple of days. I never read that quickly! I would not say it was a 'page turner', however I was keen to discover how the characters and their relationships developed. It was an easy read; which is to say that the book flows well, the narrative is accessible and I was absorbed from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I hope you do too! ~ Ant, Amazon

I found this a very engaging book from the first page to the last. Everyone will find some family resemblance to one or more of the characters. The story is well defined and I find the authors style of writing easy to read. I look forward to the next book. ~ Lyn B, Amazon

N.E. David's new novel The Burden is a pleasure to read, a witty and moving portrayal of the innocence of childhood, the responsibility we feel for our family, and the secrets that they keep from us. Every page is filled with evocative prose and fascinating characters that will tug at your heartstrings and make you smile. ~ Rob, Amazon

With two small boys in the house, my time for reading is severely curtailed these days. I need a book to engage me from the beginning or I never get past the first chapter. So well done, NE David, you passed the test! I like the passing of the story between different characters as each of their viewpoints adds a new dimension to the reader's understanding of the 'burden' that the family faces. The character of Geoffrey was particularly intriguing - it can be difficult to write from the point of view of a cad without alienating the reader too much, but a nice balance was struck here. ~ Sally Mitcham, Amazon

As the sub-title says, this novel is about a family - siblings Frank and Pat, their mother Elizabeth and the father who walks out on them, Geoffrey. Life is hard after Geoffrey disappears. The family home is a caravan on a trailer park, Elizabeth battles to give the children a decent upbringing, Frank becomes an alcoholic and has to face his own battle with the bottle. Pat doesn't get much happiness either. Obviously the family is burdened. But what exactly is their burden? Every family has its secrets and underlying the difficulties faced by this particular family there's a big one. You have to read to the end to discover what it is, and if you're like me, you'll find the revelation quite a shock. The novel begins when Frank and Pat are grown up and Elizabeth is in a care home. The event that brings their past into focus is when Geoffrey turns up in a nearby hospital dying of cancer. He has something to tell Frank and he's begging his son to visit him. What is this secret? The mystery unravels as we follow the family's fortunes (mostly misfortunes, actually) through the characters' childhood, youth, middle and old age, explored from each of their points of view. The characters and their relationships are etched with unforgiving realism and the prevailing atmosphere is bleak. But that's how things were for lots of people in the middle of the twentieth century, the period in which the story is set. If you like social realism, this is a novel for you. And there's masses of suspense. Will Frank go to the hospital to meet his dying father? What is Geoffrey so desperate to tell him? I felt I got to know the main characters in depth, and I sympathised with all of them (even Geoffrey). Absorbing and intriguing. Definitely recommended. ~ Goggog, Amazon

I approached the book even before the first page wondering how the author would approach on the surface a simple premise. However you soon learn the premise is far from that. It reminds us very succintly in the portrayal of each story component from opposing views, that there are two sides to every story and that presumption and denial are tragic features of so many families. This dysfunctional family carry their own burden which in a sense is not the issue for the reader although wanting to understand the truth of the story is crucial to the narrative. The more significant outcome was the intimate view we are given. N.E.David is merciless in the exposure he gives his characters yet never judges, allowing the reader to relate their own personal conflicts, perhaps seeing each as they might see themselves. I am left with many thoughts after reading, not of love but of hope and sympathy for each of them. I am grateful for the writer unpicking the parts of ourselves and our families that we hide from view. Recommended read ~ Steve, Amazon

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as others see us!" Robert Burns's famous lines came to mind as I read this well written and compelling story. Frank Johnson, the central character, isn't instantly likeable and yet the author's skill in describing how childhood events helped to shape his personality and outlook led me to hope that everything would work out well for him. Every family has its secrets and the ending took me completely by surprise; no bad thing in a page turner. ~ Montholon, Amazon

This book is perfectly titled, it does exactly what it says on the tin. The novel explores family, and the burdens that come along with it, through the eyes of four different family members. N.E.David has chosen to reveal parts of the story through each persons eyes, leaving the reader as the only one with the whole picture. It’s a story of love and acceptance, both between characters and of the choices they make. It’s a story told in the small things, the words that weren't spoken or the quiet acceptance of a situation. It’s an intimate story that drew me in and let me pass a few happy hours in the worlds of Elisabeth, Geoffrey, Pat and Frank. ~ Sarah Dixon , Amazon

THE BURDEN is my second novel. It’s completely unlike the first except that as with Michael Blake in BIRDS OF THE NILE, it attempts to portray a character. Frank Johnson is, I suspect, not a particularly likeable person, although I like to think he has at least one redeeming feature in the love he bears his mother. To find out why this is so, we must visit three members of his close family and hear their stories as well as his own. Hopefully we will then understand what formed him and why he turned out as he did. I’ve always known that my father abandoned my mother and that I spent part of my early childhood living in a caravan. More recently I was shocked to discover it was for a period of four years. So did Frank. He became an alcoholic. Fortunately, I did not. There, but for the Grace of God, go us all. ~ N.E.David, An Introduction From The Author

THE BURDEN is my second novel. It’s completely unlike the first except that as with Michael Blake in BIRDS OF THE NILE, it attempts to portray a character. Frank Johnson is, I suspect, not a particularly likeable person, although I like to think he has at least one redeeming feature in the love he bears his mother. To find out why this is so, we must visit three members of his close family and hear their stories as well as his own. Hopefully we will then understand what formed him and why he turned out as he did. I’ve always known that my father abandoned my mother and that I spent part of my early childhood living in a caravan. More recently I was shocked to discover it was for a period of four years. So did Frank. He became an alcoholic. Fortunately, I did not. There, but for the Grace of God, go us all. ~ N.E.David, An Introduction From The Author

William Faulkner famously said ‘The past isn't dead. It's not even past.’ The Burden explores, with sensitivity and skill, the way in which events that took place decades ago can impact on the present. Its unsentimental treatment of childhood as a time of confusion and uncertainty is especially acute. Many readers will see elements of themselves in this emotionally engaging novel. ~ Miles Salter, Director of York Literature Festival

The Burden is a fascinating amalgamation of diverse characters, woven into a luxuriant tapestry of plot lines from Alzheimer's to single motherhood, abandonment to alcoholism, and all whilst being portrayed through various periods of the characters' lives. The many surprises along the way were more than enough to keep me interested and I was curious to know exactly what this 'burden' was. What I love about N.E.David's writing is I never know what to expect next and he doesn't stick to only one genre. It's always hard to follow a good first novel, but the author has managed it more than capably. ~ Susan Buchanan, Bestselling author of Sign of the Times

N.E. David's new novel The Burden is a pleasure to read, a witty and moving portrayal of the innocence of childhood, the responsibility we feel for our family, and the secrets that they keep from us. Every page is filled with evocative prose and fascinating characters that will tug at your heartstrings and make you smile. ~ Rob O’Connor, Creative Writing Tutor at the University of York, Centre for Lifelong Learning

I read this book in one go - couldn't put it down, in fact - and found it totally absorbing. Having inherited his father's restless spirit but not his charm, it's small wonder that Frank Johnson is such a tragic character. Will he believe the bitter irony of his situation as revealed to him on the final page? How might this affect the rest of his life? One can only hope for a sequel. ~ Maggie Cobbett, Former Chair of Ripon Writers Group

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
N.E. David
N.E. David N.E.David is the pen name of York author Nick David. Nick tried writing earlier in life but like so many things, it did not work out first t...
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