Peter Kennedy Reversal of David

ISBN 13: 9781496008503

Reversal of David

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This is a literary novel, a psychological thriller, about time and the damage it can cause to a professional life. It explores the tension between the apparent certainty and stability of everyday reality and the destabilizing influence of perceiving an altered perception of time. The contrast is between what seems to be the expected and sensible way of living and working and a compelling desire to imagine an alternative and dangerous reality based on what might have been had a different set of early life choices been made. A central theme of the story is that David, the main character, is totally obsessed with the notion of time, and even wears a different prestigious watch for each day of the week. The story is firmly anchored in the most real situation that can be imagined, that of a successful heart surgeon, David Barnsley-Hill, in his late 40s working in a busy and prestigious teaching hospital where everything appears to be normal and regular. But his stable life is increasingly threatened by a series of unexpected events. He starts to encounter people and situations that he thinks could only have come about had he taken different courses and actions early in his career. At first he puts this all down to coincidence, but their increasing frequency and bizarre nature tells him that this is more than that. A central and unifying strand in the novel is his charming but mysterious patient, Max Fassbinder, a Jewish refugee and holocaust survivor from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Gradually David’s life and work starts to suffer, at first almost unnoticed by colleagues and friends and family. He starts to seriously wonder whether he is physically ill or whether this is the onset of madness. He manages to discreetly organise consultations with a psychiatrist and a neurologist but they find nothing untoward. He becomes increasingly worried and obsessed. There follows a series of encounters and bizarre and evocative events, primarily in Berlin, these interspersed with descriptions of apparently routine clinical work and encounters in the hospital. But gradually his parallel reality and what he assumes is actual reality in the hospital and in his home start to merge into each other. There is a final denouement in the form of a surprising twist to the story which appears on the face of it to give an explanation of everything that has happened to him but which still leaves open the possibility, indicated by a final additional twist, of a still darker explanation.

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